With few analysts expecting to see the U.S. auto market regain much of its lost ground anytime soon, Ford Motor Co. is betting heavily on emerging markets, such as India, where CEO Alan Mulally has unveiled the new Ford Figo.
Targeting the Indian market’s fast-growing small car segment, Figo made its first appearance at a news conference in Delhi, an event that underscores the strategic importance of India in Ford’s future plans, Mulally said.
Figo has no meaning in Hindi, the largest language in the sprawling country.
Ford has invested $500 million at its manufacturing complex in southern India, near Chennai, to not only build the new model, but to serve as a “center of excellence” for Ford small car production on the subcontinent, Figo is targeting a segment of the market that now accounts for more than 70% of the new vehicle market in India.
Figo leverages Ford’s older small-car platform architecture, sharing underlying technology with the Ford Fiesta, already familiar to Indian drivers, which is two generations behind the current one in Europe. This older Fiesta also formed the basis for Ford’s first small car to go into production in China.