Ford India announced the national launch of Ford Assured in New Delhi last Friday. Ford Assured is a partnership between Ford India and its 58 dealers across the country to buy, recondition and sell used cars of different Indian manufacturers.
Ford India had launched Ford Assured first in Chennai on April 24, 2000, following it up with subsequent launches in Bangalore, Coimbatore, Ludhiana, Baroda and Pune last year. "The national launch was a consequence of the encouraging response we received from customers," said a Ford executive present at the Delhi launch. In the next phase, Ford India plans to enter the markets of Mumbai, Kolkata and a few more cities.
So, why did Ford India decide to enter the used car business? "The entry into the used car business is another way to enhance brand recall," said, John Fink, vice-president, marketing, sales and service. "Ford Assured, is an attempt to reach those buyers who own a Maruti 800-cc and want to upgrade to a new Santro or Esteem. Now they have the option to buy a second-hand Ford Ikon or even a Honda City," Ravi Mangipudi, general manager, new business development, told agencyfaqs!. "With the Assured seal on used cars, we assure customers genuine value for money, and more importantly, peace of mind and a pleasant purchase experience."
To achieve this, Ford Assured cars will be sold with a 12-month or 15,000 km warranty and three free services. To get the Ford Assured seal, a car has to go through several tests.
"Ford Assured follows stringent guidelines to address the concerns and inconveniences of the used car buyer," explained Fink. The inspection procedure of vehicles is pretty strict to begin with. A used car has to go through a 116-point check and if it scores above 60 per cent on Ford Assured's unique vehicle inspection scoring parameter, the vehicle is taken up for reconditioning. The next hurdle is what the company calls the 50-point reconditioning. It is only after going through all these that a vehicle gets the Ford Assured seal.
Even the sales function has been standardised. Dealers are trained by the company and have fully equipped workshops to recondition cars of different make. On top of all these, Ford Credit offers attractive finance schemes to make purchases easier for the potential buyers.
Ford has earmarked an adspend of more than Rs 1 crore for Ford Assured. Currently, the company is using the print media to put the 'peace of mind' message across to the potential buyers. The advertisements will appear in The Times of India, The Hindustan Times and Navbharat Times. Moreover, car melas are being organized to attract people to further spread the message.
Ford estimates that one million second-hand cars are bought every year. "The used car market is yet unorganized but with serious efforts from Ford India, Maruti, Mercedes, Hyundai etc there's going to be a major competition here … very much like what we have in the first hand market," said Murad Ali Baig, motoring and travel writer.
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