New Ford EcoSport? This leaked patent could be very good news for Ford South Africa

Picture courtesy of Rush Lane:

Picture courtesy of Rush Lane:

Published Feb 28, 2024


Although the Ford Ranger bakkie has been a huge success on the South African market, the brand has fallen behind on the passenger car front.

Ford shutting its operations in India dealt a significant blow by cutting off affordable models like the Figo and base spec EcoSport, and in recent years European imports have just become too expensive for the mass market.

The SA operation is fighting back though, with new products like the Puma and the Chinese-sourced Territory.

But with the Puma priced at a huge premium to the now discontinued EcoSport, the brand still lacks an affordable SUV entry.

This, while rivals such as Suzuki, Toyota, Honda and Kia flood the local market with Indian-built SUVs that are priced within reach of the mass market. But Ford’s fortunes could be about to change.

It is strongly rumoured that Ford is planning to re-enter the Indian market, and those rumours gained traction this week after Rush Lane published this image of a new SUV, which has apparently been patented by Ford in India. According to the Indian publication, the carmaker has also advertised job postings in India.

Little else is known about the SUV in the picture. While some publications speculate that it’s a sub-four-metre compact, to our eyes, it appears like a larger model that could perhaps compete with newcomers like the Honda Elevate, Toyota Urban Cruiser and Suzuki Grand Vitara.

But either way, it should fill the shoes of the EcoSport quite comfortably.

It also remains to be seen what lies beneath the skin.

Before pulling out of India, Ford had entered into a partnership with Mahindra that would likely have seen an EcoSport replacement based on the XUV300, among other new product entries.

It remains to be seen whether that partnership will be revived.

But there’s another intriguing possibility. What if the Blue Oval had to extend its partnership with Volkswagen?

Given that the latter will shortly introduce a new affordable SUV model in India under the Skoda brand, surely there’s scope to enhance efficiencies of scale by adding a Ford SUV to the portfolio?

But then, with Volkswagen having recently teamed up with Mahindra in a deal that will give the latter access to some of its electric car technology, perhaps we’re looking at a three-way partnership in the making?

This is all just speculation of course. But either way, if Ford starts producing small SUVs in India again, it could only be good news for local Ford fans.

IOL Motoring