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.
“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.