Ford isn’t expecting its EcoSport subcompact SUV to reach very high sales in Europe since the model was conceptualized to target emerging markets. The European EcoSport presented at the Geneva Auto Show has the same powerful format as the original car that Ford’s design team undertook in South America. It even has the rear-mounted spare wheel.
Martin Smith, executive design director for Ford of Europe, said that this was intended to have a “rugged” look since most of the regions where it will be sold, such as in South America and India, will need a tough vehicle. Smith and the other design directors didn’t want to stray from Ford's global design principles but they decided to prioritize what buyers in emerging markets demanded.
For example, those who lived in countries with many bad roads wanted to have a spare wheel. Since it can’t be accommodated inside the vehicle, Ford decided to attach it on the rear, similar to how the traditional off-roaders did it. Consumers in Europe can have it removed it but the fastenings will stay visible. They also can’t cancel having the spare wheel.
Smith said that while the company realizes that this feature can appear too rugged and too added-on, they’re still offering the vehicle with the same configuration for all the markets.
The rugged EcoSport is the only one of its kind in a category where its European competitors are meant to appear sporty and playful such as the Nissan Juke, or styled the same as its tall subcompacts, like the recently presented Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008. Ford didn’t have much of a choice but to offer the EcoSport or lose out on what analysts IHS Automotive describe as a sector that will reach 500,000 in Europe by 2015, an increase from 154,461 units last year.