The Ford Figo is a key product for Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa in the now growing new car market.  Its crisp driving dynamics, fuel-efficient engine options, cheerful styling and interiors and, of course, its terrific pricing, have propelled it up the sales charts and won it critical acclaim in the local media.

Launched locally in July 2010 the Ford Figo caters to the increasingly important entry-level market that is bolstering growth in the South African car market. The so-called sub-B segment has increased exponentially year on year as South Africans continue to buy more affordable cars in the shadow of economic recession.

“The market is moving towards smaller more affordable hatchbacks that offer an appealing level of style and safety,” said Vice President Marketing, Sales and Service, Dean Stoneley

In light of its impressive success the South African motoring media have named the Figo a finalist in the South African Car of the Year competition with the final evaluation set to take place mid-February.

“It is an impressive testament to the weight this segment commands in the new car market,” continues Stoneley.

Figo enjoyed a successful debut in South Africa, capitalising on the extensive demand in its segment. The car promptly entered SA’s Top 10 performing passenger cars in its launch month, completing only two weeks of sales during July 2010. It firmly established itself as the 8th best selling passenger car in the second half 2010, with the Figo finding 4380 new owners in 2010.

Produced in India, Ford Motor Company invested $500 million in the Chennai plant which produces 200,000 Ford Figo units per year. Through this investment Ford was able to ensure major advances in high-quality automation and innovative as well as eco-friendly production techniques.

“Ford Motor Company has demonstrated its commitment to emerging markets through its sizeable investment in the production of the Ford Figo, a product intended specifically for these markets,” says Stoneley.

In India the small car segment accounts for more than 70 percent of the new vehicle market, while in South Africa this segment is demonstrating sizeable growth. The Figo has a solid foundation and utilises Ford’s small-car platform architecture, sharing underlying technology with the Ford Fiesta.

“Though the Figo is based on the tried-and-tested platform of the previous generation Fiesta it is a more sophisticated product making use of newer more advanced technologies and resources,” says Stoneley.

Sharing key elements of Ford’s kinetic design language with vehicles like the globally renowned Ford Focus and the Ford Fiesta, Ford Figo features a fresh, contemporary shape that is a distinctive alternative to traditional brands in this segment. The design language conveys a dynamic spirit of energy in motion.

Quality, substance and generous proportions are clearly evident in the design of the Ford Figo, which features a solid stance, an invitingly large interior and a vibrant, youthful character.

Created with a “best of the best” approach, the Chennai plant has been benchmarked against other competitive facilities globally. With greater automation and new high-tech facilities, the new Figo is built using the latest Ford manufacturing processes globally and pioneers new technologies for both Ford and the region.

The transformed plant introduces eco-friendly production techniques like its new Three-Wet High-Solids paint process. This approach produces beautifully painted vehicles with three wet coats – primer, base coat and clear coat – of high solids-content paint applied one after the other without oven curing between coats.  It produces fewer carbon dioxide emissions and reduces volatile organic compounds emissions by about 20 percent compared to current medium-solids solvent-borne paints. Use of high-solids content results in a paint finish with high levels of gloss and depth of colour which is more resistant to scratches and stone chips.

In light of these advances,  the Figo has already been named the Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) 2011 by a jury panel of leading automotive magazine editors and has gone on to win more awards than any other nameplate in the history of the Indian automotive industry.

“The Figo is proving its metal through its popularity,” says Stoneley. “Consumers are demonstrating their faith in the vehicle by committing their own money rather than corporate driven sales, over 91% of Figos sold to date were retailed through the dealer network. And that is a mark of Ford’s continuing growth and success.”

The South African Car of the Year winner will be announced at a gala awards ceremony on 08 March 2011.