At the announcement of Ford and Mahindra’s joint venture (JV) for India last month, executives of both companies made public plans for three new SUVs for Ford, and their cooperation in electric vehicle development. Autocar India can now confirm that there’s a lot more to come from the JV too – including a new Ford MPV, which will based on the Mahindra Marazzo.
Ford had previously considered entering the Indian MPV market with a low-cost version of the B-Max (code: B516) to take on the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. However, the investment needed was too high for the volumes projected, especially in a market where MPVs were being overshadowed by SUVs. As a result, the project was ultimately shelved. Now, with this new JV in place, Ford has access to the Marazzo’s platform, which the company plans to use to develop its own ‘top-hat’.
The new model will not be a badge-engineering job and is expected to get a completely new body designed to retain the look sported by Ford’s global MPVs, like the B-Max. There will be plenty of unique elements on the inside as well like a new dashboard altogether, along with the Sync series infotainment system from the Ford parts bin. Like the Marazzo, the new Ford MPV could be sold in seven- or eight-seat configurations. Under the skin, however, the Ford MPV will have much in common with the Marazzo. The Marazzo’s unique combo of ladder-frame chassis and front-wheel drive will be retained, though Ford is sure to rework the suspension tuning. What will be common to the two MPVs is their powertrain. A BS6 version of Mahindra’s 1.5-litre diesel engine will power the Ford MPV, and manual and AMT auto gearboxes will be on offer, as well. A 1.5-litre turbo-petrol (which Mahindra is in the process of developing) is also a likely engine option.
This new JV has opened a wide range of new product options that were not feasible for Ford to develop on its own earlier; but by sharing development and production costs with Mahindra, products like a mid-size MPV – which Ford had seriously mulled over in the past – are back on the drawing board.
For Ford, the MPV segment is of particularly interest as MPVs have been an integral part of Ford’s global model range. “MPVs resonate with the perception that Ford is a family brand with family values,” said a source in Ford.
More importantly, there has been a resurgence of the MPV segment led by the second-generation Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and, more recently, the compact Renault Triber. The Marazzo too, has contributed to the MPV segment’s growth whilst the Innova Crysta has remained unchallenged at the top-end of the segment. The Kia Carnival is all set to crash the Innova’s party and push segment sales further. “It’s the right time to enter the MPV market, especially since the entry barriers are now much lower with the Mahindra tie-up,” said a company insider from Ford.
The new Ford MPV is likely go on sale in India sometime in 2021.