"At Sanand, we will be building the early prototypes at Sanand towards the end of this year, and will be going for mass production early next year," Kel Kearns, Plant Director, Ford Assembly Plant, Sanand told The Indian Express on Friday.
Kearns who was at the Nirma University to attend a conference on 'Global Excellence through Innovation', however did not reveal the details of the prototypes that company was planning to build at the plant site located about 40 kilometers from Ahmedabad.
The Sanand plant which is currently under construction will have an initial capacity of 2.4 lakh cars and 2.7 lakh engines annually. It will be the company's second plant in India after the one in Chennai. Ford had broken ground at Sanand for the plant in September 2011 and laid the foundation in March 2012.
"We will have 95 percent automation in our body-shop which is a the highest level of automation for any car manufacturer in whole of Asia Pacific and Africa. At existing Ford plants across different parts of the world the level of automation is about 30 percent," said Kearns about a core production area of the car manufacturing plant that also comprises of a paint shop and an assembly line.
Earlier addressing the gathering at the conference, the Ford official said over 13 suppliers (vendors) have already moved into Sanand within a three kilometer radius of the plant. "This will ensure just-in-time delivery of major components for us," he said while referring to companies like Getrag Transmission India Pvt Ltd, Cosma International, Valeo India Pvt Ltd, Noble Automotive and others.
The business strategy at Sanand is to supply to the domestic market and to export the cars made in Gujarat to multiple overseas markets, the official said. "We will be a major exporter. We are looking at long term," Kearns added.
In his recent meeting with Mark Fields, global CEO of Ford Motor Company, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked Ford to put Sanand on the global manufacturing map by exporting cars in large numbers from the factory in Gujarat.
"Everyone has a strong belief that there will be a significant growth in domestic market. It happened in China. India looks to be second major market for cars and so we decided to roll the dice and make a significant investment here," Kearns remarked.