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Ford to focus beyond Ajay for its automatic Fiesta

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Ford that launched the premium automatic powershift version of its sedan, Fiesta, yesterday, will focus not only Ajay, its representative target audience but his family too.

Speaking to Pitch, Nigel Wark, Executive Director, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford India, said, “Considering that the automatic car is easier to maneuver around, even the family of Ajay can drive and handle it too.” So it would not be just Ajay this time around that would be the focus of the car.

Ajay, for Ford, is a personification of a young successful business person and has a family.

Ford, according to Wark, will largely use digital to communicate the features of its Fiesta Style (Rs 8.99 lakh ex-showroom) and Titanium+ (Rs 9.70 lakh ex-showroom) for communication. “Ajay is largely on digital. He spends little time on television and reading newspapers. He catches up with news and information on the digital space, so we will use digital largely for communication,” Wark said.

Nigel Wark

Nigel Wark, Executive Director, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford India

And the digital space would be used for word of mouth and real life stories by giving out cars to journalists and real people for test drives. Subsequently, these real life stories would be turned to TVCs and print communication.

According to Wark, another focus for Ford would be to debunk the five myths related to automatic cars. Ford commissioned a pan India study along with TNS to find out the perception of automatic cars amongst Indians. These five myths include: 1.) That automatic cars are high on maintenance; 2.) Automatic cars are sluggish; 3.) Not great to drive and have problems on gradients; 4.) Have low fuel efficiency; and 5.) Are expensive to own.

Wark said, “The automatic powershift Fiesta needs zero maintenance on transmission for  10 years or 2,40,000 kms; has a six speed dual clutch for smooth driving; has an intelligent braking system for creeping in heavy traffic and handling gradients; fuel efficiency is better than some manuals in the segment; and comes at a price that is affordable.”

On the last – the price – Michael Boneham, President and Managing Director, Ford India, said, “By launching the automatic powershift at this price we are democratizing technology in India.”

Efforts will be made to debunk these myths through TVCs, print and digital.

On the distribution front, Wark informed that special training has been imparted to sales officers at showrooms on handling the automatic cars.

In spite of Wark informing that the sentiment in India in 2011 has been towards diesel cars, due to rising fuel prices, the automatic powershift car has been launched in petrol only. “There is a considerable amount of interest still in petrol; and automatic cars handle petrol better,” he said.

On sales targets, Wark was non-committal on setting any targets. “We have launched the car before the budget. How the budget is going to affect steel prices and automobile prices, that will largely set the mood for the year and targets,” he said.

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Neeta Nair

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