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Ford Escort | First Ford Car In India Or Was It?

It is said that nobody is perfect, but if you drive a Ford, you are close. Ford has been a prominent player in the Indian automotive industry. Cars such as Ecosport, Figo, Endeavour and many others have been selling in good numbers in the Indian market. Ford Motor Company that we are familiar with today, came to our shores in 1995. The first car to launch was the Ford Escort, a saloon car.

1926 | Ford is that you?

Ford Logo 1926
Ford Logo 1926

I have abruptly mentioned the year as the first time Ford tried to enter India was this year. Ford India Pvt. Ltd. set foot on our shores as a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, Canada. But the company was shut down in 1954 after the company dwelt losses in the market.

1995 – Better Luck This Time?

Mahindra Ford India Ltd.
Mahindra Ford India Ltd.

This year, Ford tried its luck in the Indian market once again. This time, it re-entered in a joint venture between Ford and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, 51-49% JV. It was named Mahindra Ford India Ltd (MFIL). Then in March 1998 Ford bought 72% of the shares in the company and renamed it to Ford India Pvt. Ltd. This is the company we know today. It takes a lot of guts to come back to a place where you failed once before. The company tried to build up the entry scene with advertisements which read as follows:

One read “FORD” – Spelt ‘S”A”F”E’

Another one showcased “FORD” – Spelt ‘C”A”R”E’

“FORD” – Spelt ‘E”D”G”E’

Escort – Technically the First Car from Mahindra Ford India Ltd.

An Advertisement from 1996 | Credits: TeamBHP
An Advertisement from 1996 | Credits: TeamBHP

So now we know that the Ford Escort was the first car from MFIL. But globally, the Escort was in production from 1968. The one that came to our shores was the sixth generation European spec. It was the sedan variant that came to the Indian market. It was a sedan loaded with features and was powered by two engine options. We will dwell into the details a bit later.

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Ford Escort | Image courtesy: TeamBHP
Ford Escort | Image courtesy: TeamBHP

It was launched at a time when sedans were not popular in India. The automotive industry just began to leap towards the future. People were more inclined towards the budget cars from Maruti Suzuki such as Maruti 800. Features were not on the priority list of the buyers. This is the reason that the Escort was not able to lure the buyers and was discontinued in 2001. The car that could set your pulse racing had no pulse left to its life.

A fun read: 10 Forgotten Sedan In India | From Cielo To Sienna

But what was offered?

The Ford Escort came equipped with two engine options: a 1.8-litre diesel and a 1.6-litre petrol unit. The petrol variant was known as Escort Alpha while the diesel one was called the Escort Orion.

Talking about the features, Ford Escort offered power steering, powered front windows, ORVMs, air conditioning, music system and much more that were luxury at that time. If it was launched after 2005, the car would have surely picked up some pace. Talking about the design, Escort was a sleek curvy sedan which looked futuristic at that time.

With so much to offer, the failure of Ford Escort would have led to the company leaving India yet again. But Ford was focused and made sure they completely assess the consumer trends in the country. Rest is the history and Ford is still standing strong.

Have a look: Ford Ikon | The Josh Machine of India

Ritvik Gupta
Ritvik Gupta
Ex-Technical Content Developer at GoMechanic | Automobile enthusiast with a knack to decode it for everyone | Automobile Engineer by passion



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