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Ford Racing to Catch Up in China and Other Asian Markets

Detroit’s second-largest maker wants to be one of Asia’s Big Three.

by on Oct.09, 2013

David Schoch, (r), president of Ford's Asia/Pacific operations, with CEO Alan Mulally and Joginder Singh, head of Ford India, during a news conference announcing export plans from Ford India.

Ford Motor Co. is racing to make up for lost time after getting off to a late start in the booming Chinese market. And with demand surging 51% since the beginning of the year, the Detroit maker is rapidly expanding both its product line-up and production capacity in a bid to catch up with key competitors like General Motors and Volkswagen AG.

Ford still has a long way to go.  While it was an early participant in other markets in the Asia/Pacific region, it initially steered clear of China – which is expected to see sales of 17 million vehicles this year and as many as 32 million by 2020, according to consensus forecasts. As a result, it lags way behind market leaders in terms of both sales and capacity.

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But the president of the Asia/Pacific region, Ford veteran David Schoch notes that the maker is clearly heading in the right direction. It turned a 2012 loss into a $183 million profit for the first half of this year, and says Schoch, “by mid-decade I do expected Asia/Pacific to be a major contributor to Ford’s (total) profits.”

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Ford Apologizes for Ads Showing Bound, Gagged Women

“Should have never happened,” maker says of Indian ad campaign.

by on Mar.24, 2013

One of the Ford India ads shows a caricature of Pari Hilton with the three Kardashian sisters bound and gagged inside a Figo.

Ford Motor Co. is taking heat for a series of ads it released in India showing caricatures of several celebrities behind the wheel of a Ford car with three women bound and gagged in the cargo bay.

With critics declaring the campaign offensive and misogynistic, Ford and its global ad agency WPP have quickly backtracked, apologizing and admitting the campaign “should never have happened.”

In one of the three, released to the website Ads of the World, a caricature of Paris Hilton is shown winking from behind the wheel of a Ford Figo with the three Kardashian sisters bound and gagged in the cargo compartment of the hatchback.

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Another ad uses a satirical image of Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi driving with three other scantily clad women bound and gagged. Meanwhile, a third ad for the Figo puts Formula One driving champ Michael Schumacher behind the wheel. This time, however, three of his long-time rivals, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, are held captive.

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Ford Lays Cornerstone of $1 Bil New Indian Plant

Confident despite sales slowdown.

by on Mar.23, 2012

Ford begins construction at its new $1 bil plant in Sanand, India.

Despite signs of a slowdown in the once-booming market, Ford this week laid the cornerstone of what will be a new $1 billion assembly plant in India.

It’s a critical part of the U.S. makers plans to become a major player in emerging markets – where it has lagged behind key competitors such as Volkswagen and General Motors.  Among other things, Ford plans to launch new products in India by the middle of the decade to appeal to the country’s fast-growing and increasingly mobile middle-class.

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“We are committed to significantly increasing our manufacturing output and aggressively expanding our business in India,” Michael Boneham, Ford India’s managing director, said in a statement.

The question is whether Ford’s investment is ill-timed.  India – one of the so-called BRIC markets, along with Brazil, Russia and China – has shown unexpected weakness in new car demand lately, some analysts fretting that the bloom is off the automotive rose after steady, double-digit growth.

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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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