Within the next 12 months, a new Ford model will be in Malaysian showrooms and it will be something entirely new in the segment that the Fiesta now has a presence in. This new model is a compact SUV known as the Ecosport and its first appearance in ASEAN was at the recent Bangkok Motorshow.
The Ecosport has been progressively appearing in some countries since it was revealed in January 2012. It is one of the 50 models and powertrains that Ford will introduce in the Asia-Pacific/Africa region by the middle of this decade as part of its aggressive global plan is to increase worldwide sales by nearly 50% to 8 million vehicles a year. Of that figure, 60 to 70% is expected to be from the Asia-Pacific and Africa region.
Major production hubs for the Ecosport, which sits on the same platform as the Fiesta, are Brazil, India and China and it will also soon be produced in Thailand for ASEAN markets.
The model will be the second one to be produced at the new US$450 million Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) facility which began operations last year with the Focus model. [Click here to read and see a video about the Ford factory]
“ASEAN is such an important growth opportunity for Ford within our Asia Pacific region,” said Alan Mulally, President & CEO of Ford Motor Company. “Our plan and successful product-led transformation is helping to deliver even more segment-leading vehicles, like the all-new EcoSport, that reflect our commitment to serve our customers with cars and trucks they truly want and value.“
A truly ‘One Ford’ vehicle for the global market, the EcoSport was developed entirely in South America, underlining Ford’s world-class capability of leveraging global design and expertise to develop small-car models for growth markets.
The powertrains vary from market to market, depending on consumer requirements and pricing strategies, and while a 1-litre EcoBoost engine is installed in the Ecosport sold in India, the ASEAN-made version will have a 1.5-litre Ti-VCT non-turbo petrol engine if what was displayed at the Bangkok motorshow is any indication of the specs. It’s also not known if the Ecosport will come with all-wheel drive or just front-wheel drive.
It will, however, come with Ford SYNC which allows handsfree operation of your mobilephone when it is connected using Bluetooth and accepts voice commands for music selection. It can also read SMS messages to you and send pre-set messages (like ‘Where are you?’ or ‘Can’t talk right now’).
Other features will include Smart Keyless Entry, pushstart button to start/stop the engine, and rear parking sensors. Safety features available will be dual front airbags and side curtain airbags along with ABS and an Electronic Stability Program (ESP).
Before the Ecosport arrives in Malaysia, though, Sime Darby Auto Connexion will launch the Kuga imported from Europe (shown below), a mid-sized SUV that is the successor to the Escape (the Escape name is still used in some markets, eg Korea). Click here to find out more about it or visit www.ford.net.my to locate a showroom where you can let them know you’re interested to test it when it is available.
[by Chips Yap]