Ford B-Max image for reference.
In the past, Ford explored viability of several projects seriously before high investment costs and not-so-ideal-timing proved to be dampeners. Now that the company has entered into a joint venture with Mahindra, the entry barriers for several segments have been lowered quite significantly due to the partner’s existing platforms and powertrains.
A few years ago, the American automaker studied our market for a localized version of its B-Max mini MPV but the project didn’t attain fruition. It is now reported that Ford is interested in this segment once again, but now with the Mahindra Marazzo as donor car.
Over the past few years, the compact MPV segment, like most other segments, seemed to be succumbing to the SUV frenzy with the Toyota Innova Crysta being the only inception. However, in its second generation, the Maruti Ertiga imparted a fresh energy into the segment and models like Marazzo and Renault Triber (although in lower segment) played their part as well. With the Kia Carnival waiting to enter the segment, things are getting interesting again.
According to the report, Ford will not rebadge the Marazzo but instead would engineer a new product based on the FWD ladder frame chassis. If the project gets the green light, the resultant Ford mini MPV for India would be deriving its styling cues from the brand’s global MPVs including the B-Max. Interior components would have several Ford bits including the SYNC infotainment system.
The primary running gear would come from the Mahindra Marazzo though. That means, the alleged Ford compact people carrier will be powered by Mahindra’s 1.5-liter diesel engine in its BS6 avatar. Both 6-speed manual gearbox and AMT will be on offer. Mahindra is currently working on a 1.5-liter turbocharged petrol engine which could also be employed by the Ford MPV.
In addition to the compact MPV, Ford’s JV with Mahindra will also spawn three new SUVs including a mid-size crossover based on the next generation Mahindra XUV500. Ford is also working on developing electric vehicles for India with Mahindra. We expect a few of these models to be manufactured at the heavily under-utilized Sanand plant.
From 2020, Ford will exist in India not as Ford India, but as Mahindra Ford JV. In this new JV, Ford has 49% stake and Mahindra has controlling stake of 51%. To reach larger audience, Ford cars will be sold via Mahindra dealerships, as the latter has a stronger and wider network in the country.