Over the next four years, Ford sees the market for, what it calls, the sub-B compact vehicle grow by 35 percent. Urban areas in emerging markets are expected to drive the growth to 6.2 million vehicles by 2017. Ford's answer to increasing demand for these small cars? The Ford Ka Concept.
The U.S. automaker, announced a new version of the compact hatchback that was first made in 1996. The Ka Concept, which is expected to launch in 2014, will target the South American and South Asian markets, of which Ford says 44 percent of the small vehicle market will come from.
"These vehicles really are important to us globally to move into areas of the business where we have historically not had good share, not made money," said Ford's Joe Hinrichs, as reported by Reuters. "If you're going to grow, especially in the growing emerging markets around the world, you need to have this entry-level family car."
So how can Ford ensure a successful run in emerging markets? One lesson should be: don't give the car a cheap image (even if it is a budget car). Tata Motors tried selling its Nano in India by marketing it as the "world's cheapest car." That strategy backfired and caused the company to rebrand the car in order to shake off the budget image. Ford already seems to have learned that lesson.
"The Ford Ka Concept is aimed at customers in growth markets who want and expect more," said Joe Hinrichs, president of The Americas for Ford Motor Company, who was on hand to unveil the new concept vehicle. "It will delight consumers with its sleek design, clever technology, attention-to-detail quality and superb craftsmanship. It also shows the continued importance of our South American design and engineering capabilities to serve markets around the world. It's truly another global design and engineering milestone for Ford."
Focus on quality, good move. And there was no mention of price in the company's announcement. (Though it's expected to be in the $10,000-$12,000 range in Brazil.)
Of course, Ford isn't the only automaker looking to cash-in on growing demand in emerging markets. Toyota, Hyundai, Volkswagen are among the other automakers trying to increase their presence around the world. But they could probably all learn something from Suzuki, which has seen its sales surge recently in emerging markets.