Bangkok. Ford Motor, the US carmaker, is hoping a new compact SUV will win it greater sales in the fast-growing Southeast Asian auto market. Matt Bradley, president of Ford Motor Asean, unveiled the EcoSport compact SUV at the Bangkok Motor Show on Monday.
Bradley said that the EcoSport’s city car-SUV hybrid would appeal to an untapped market of buyers in the region.
“This vehicle gets our blood flowing and we are very excited about it,” Bradley said at the motor show. “We anticipate that it will be a key contributor to what we need to do for our growth plan.”
Bradley said that Ford was going through a “product-led transformation,” which was helping the automaker grow by identifying new markets around the globe and aggressively seeking sales there with targeted vehicles such as the EcoSport.
He said the company started the growth model back in 2010 with the launch in Southeast Asia of the Fiesta, a small city car, followed by the Ranger, a pickup truck. The program also included the remodeling of the compact Focus.
Those three models helped push Ford’s Southeast Asian sales to 87,000 units last year, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year.
Bradley said that he expected the EcoSport to meet with success and high sales in the region and in Indonesia, specifically, explaining that smaller vehicles were a huge portion of auto industry sales here.
He cited the “sheer size” of the Indonesian market, with total car sales reaching 1.1 million units last year, expected to reach 2 million units per year by the end of the decade.
Bradley said that high sales expectations were based on consumer trends observed in South America, where the EcoSport was first developed and sold.
Bagus Susanto, managing director of Ford Motor Indonesia, said that the model would appeal to young urbanites.
He added that the EcoSport’s closest rivals would likely be the Nissan Juke and the Toyota Rush.
Ford currently has about 1 percent share in Indonesia’s auto market, according to Bagus. He cited, however, that in its product category, the compact Fiesta had about 10 percent of the Indonesian market.
To support market growth, the company will add at least five new outlets this year to add to its current 40 dealers, Bagus said.
“The Indonesian market is dominated by MPVs [multipurpose vehicles], but the SUV market is definitely growing. There is a lot of demand, there is a lot of need from Indonesian consumers to have SUV-type vehicles,” he said. “We are very confident in this car.”
The Indonesian car market is dominated by Japanese brands such as Toyota and Daihatsu.
Johnny Darmawan, a vice chairman of the Indonesia Automotive Industry Association, or Gaikindo, said this year that the association is expecting to see 5 percent growth in car sales after a record 2012.
Bradley declined to disclose production or sales targets for the EcoSport, or when the model will actually be made available in the region. However, once launched, he said Indonesia would see the product at “pretty much the same time” as the other markets in the region.