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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.


Driving Tata Nano: Will Americans Accept Its Limitations?

Indian price of $2,500 would likely more than double here.

by on Aug.11, 2010

The relatively luxurious Tata Nano LX.

The little four-seater proves reasonably adept as we pull away from the Grand Traverse Resort.  It’s not registered for U.S. roads, so we have to stick to the sprawling complex’s service roads, but they’re long and quick enough to give us a sense of what to expect from one of the most well-publicized cars in the world.

The Tata Nano is not only the cheapest car on the road, but also one of the smallest.  At 122 inches, nose-to-tail, it’s barely a foot longer than the Smart fortwo – even with its two back seats.  And, at just 1,500 pounds, it weighs about 300 pounds less than the Franco-German Smart.

That helps the little Nano make do with a miniscule 624-cc (0.6 liter) two-cylinder engine making 35 horsepower.  Whether it can take the fortwo in a drag race is uncertain, though the Nano certainly won’t leave a patch of rubber.  But rated at 56 mpg – with a 4-gallon gas tank giving it a theoretical range of 224 miles – one might forgive its less-than-stellar performance. (more…)

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.