Ford Ecosport launch 6

Ford EcoSport models sold in Europe are expected to receive a revamp in May amid lacklustre sales in the burgeoning B-segment crossover market, according to an Automotive News report. Just 11,257 units of the tallboy Fiesta found homes from its launch in April until November – in the same period Renault sold 149,701 units of the segment-leading Captur, while sales of the Peugeot 2008 reached 125,002 units.

Industry analyst IHS Automotive believes that Ford made a “big misstep” with the EcoSport – designed primarily for markets like India and Brazil, where buyers prefer more rugged-looking vehicles – against sleeker-looking rivals in Europe, given the segment’s growth potential in the coming years.

The biggest change coming to the EcoSport would be the removal of the exterior-mounted spare wheel – which will be offered as a no-cost option instead – despite Ford previously saying that the rear design of the Indian-built model could not be changed. Despite the move, the side-hinged tailgate will be retained.

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Revisions will also be made to the suspension setup and the interior plastics, in a move to make the EcoSport more closely resemble the Fiesta, the company’s bestselling model (European versions of the latter get soft-touch plastics, rather than the hard trim in our market). “We want to give it a bit more Fiesta personality,” said a Ford spokesperson.

IHS predicts that the B-segment crossover market will grow to over 900,000 units by 2017, up from the 500,000 units sold last year. Set to contribute to the expansion are new arrivals like the Fiat 500X, which is expected to sell over 70,000 units a year, putting it in fifth place behind the Captur, 2008, Nissan Juke and the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka.

In contrast, Ford is forecast to sell 20,239 units of the EcoSport in Europe this year, down from its original prediction of 36,000 units.