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India Ready to Overtake Japan in Car Sales

But can infrastructure keep up?

by on Mar.15, 2012

Hoping to tap into the booming Indian market, Ford recently went to Delhi to reveal the new Figo.

Already humbled by years of economic stagnation and last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan’s continuing decline as one of the world’s leading auto markets is likely to be taken down another peg.

A new study by IHS Automotive predicts that sales in India will reach 4.88 million by 2016, which would move that emerging nation past Japan, which the consulting firm forecasts will see automotive sales of just 4.51 million that year.

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Japanese auto sales have been running at barely half their peak rate during the Asian nation’s bubble economy and show little sign of recovery.  In fact, IHS expects the market’s sales to again taper off to just 4.25 million by 2020.  Japan recorded 4.87 million new vehicle sales in 2010 but saw that number dip to 4.13 million the following year, much of that due to lost production and other problems caused by the March 2011 natural disaster.

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Ford’s Big Bet on India

Late to China, maker hopes to move faster on subcontinent.

by on Jul.28, 2011

The Ford Figo will be joined by at least eight new models as the maker presses into India.

Ford will invest nearly $1 billion in India in a bid to gain ground in what many see as a market that could potentially rival the long-term growth of China.

Most of that money – about $900 million – will go for a new plant, the company’s second, that could boost Ford’s Indian production capacity from the current 240,000 vehicles a year to 600,000.  The announcement comes as Ford begins expanding its product portfolio with the Indian launch of the Fiesta, its global subcompact.

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“We don’t see the fundamentals changing here in India and the rest of Asia, and that is that growth is going to be the order of the day,” said Michael Boneham, head of Ford’s Indian operations.

Earlier this year, Ford CEO Alan Mulally outlined an aggressive growth plan that calls for boosting worldwide sales to 8 million this decade, a 50% jump.  The executive stressed the importance of the Asia/Pacific region in meeting that goal.

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Ford More Than Doubling Chinese Product Line-Up

Maker planning 23 new products across Asia, 15 for China.

by on Jun.17, 2011

Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

With Asia expected to be the engine of its future growth, Ford has outlined an aggressive product roll-out that will put 23 new models in its line-up by mid-decade, with the majority of those earmarked for China, now the world’s largest automotive market.

Ford currently holds just 2.6% of the Chinese car market, largely due to a late start, barely one-sixth the share held by its rival General Motors.  But catching up in China – as well in India and other parts of Asia – will be critical to the recently-announced growth plan outlined by Ford CEO Alan Mulally, which calls for the maker to jump from 5.2 million sales annually to 8 million. Last year, the Asia/Pacific region accounted for just 15% of Ford’s global volume, but the maker believes it can push that closer to a full one-third.

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Of the 15 new cars planned for China and eight targeting India, the vast majority will be aimed at the smallest and lowest-priced market segments, according to Joe Hinrichs, head of the maker’s Asian operations, below the current subcompact Fiesta.  That means less than $14,500 in China, and $8,500 in India, which was recently projected to become the world’s third-largest automotive market by the end of the decade. (For more on that story, Click Here.)

“For Ford, if you want to grow the business and be competitive in China, we have to have a product portfolio that plays where the volume is,” said Hinrichs.

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Ford Figo Targets Indian Auto Market

New model is backed by a $500 million plant investment.

by on Sep.23, 2009

The new Ford Figo could prove to be a cornerstone of growth, according to CEO Alan Mulally, second from left.

The Figo could be a cornerstone of growth, according to CEO Alan Mulally, second from left.

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.

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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.

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