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Why the Ford EcoSport was killed

The Ford EcoSport was discontinued in 2022 and officially delisted in South Africa earlier in 2023, despite being one of the automaker’s best-selling vehicles over the past decade.

The reason for this is that the popular crossover reached the “end of its platform lifecycle,” said Neale Hill, president of Ford Motor Company South Africa (FMCSA), at the recent media launch of the Puma, the automaker’s new entry-level car now that the EcoSport has departed.

While this just sounds like change for the sake of change, Hill explained that there were several limitations to the architecture of the EcoSport that made it unfeasible for the company to keep producing it.

An old product in a new world

The EcoSport, launched in 2013, rode on the same B3 platform as the Fiesta and was situated in the budget vehicle segment.

As such, the foundation would not be able to support the new technologies and systems that have trickled down to the lower price brackets over the years without substantial and costly upgrades, which would have made the ageing crossover far more expensive.

This would have caused the EcoSport to be a much tougher sell than before and could have ended up with the automaker losing more money than it made.

Hill said the budget market is “particularly challenging” in South Africa due to the high incentives needed to get a price-conscious consumer into a new set of wheels, which paired with the low margins that manufacturers generally earn on affordable cars, leaves little, if anything, for Ford to take home after the sale is made.

In addition, since the Covid-19 pandemic Ford has sold its Brazilian and Indian factories that were still building the EcoSport, consequently pushing all production to its Craiova, Romania plant, where it shared a line with another car, the new Puma.

However, with battery-electric vehicles being the future and petrol the past, the Blue Oval needed space at its Romanian factory to build an electric version of the Puma that is penned in to arrive sometime in 2024.

As such, it made the difficult but more economically-sound decision to invest in its new battery-powered Puma, and halt the manufacturing of its now-11-year-old EcoSport indefinitely.

To still have a relatively affordable product on the market, Ford opted to transfer the B3 platform to the new Puma and perform the necessary upgrades that enable it to “support electronic advancements” far into the future.

The removal of the EcoSport and the outdated architecture from its brochures has now also given FMCSA the opportunity to “grow its portfolio” once again, said Hill.

While it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever get another wallet-friendly Ford akin to the EcoSport, Fiesta, or Figo, the executive said FMCSA constantly looks at everything that is available to it at a global scale, including passenger vehicles (read: small SUVs) made by its partners such as China’s Changan and JMC.

However, the subsidiary will only pull the proverbial trigger on one of these cars if it fits the local catalogue and agrees with the “economics.”

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