US auto major Ford Motor Co on Tuesday announced setting up of a global technology and business centre (GBC) in Chennai with an estimated investment of R1,300 crore ($195 million) to design, develop and collaborate with global operations for auto components and allied services. The centre, the third one in the Asia Pacific region, will serve as a hub for product development, mobility solutions and business services, said Ford executive chairman Bill Ford in Chennai.
The centre, spread across 28 acres, will help consolidate 9,000 employees in all its R&D operations in India, across six facilities, under one roof. Post-consolidation, the campus will employ 12,000 people over a period of five years with fresh hiring of 3,000 engineers, scientists and accounting professionals, among others, said Ford. The Chennai facility will be the second largest centre of employment globally after Dearborn in the US, he added. Addressing mediapersons, he said: “We are bullish about the Indian market. After a lull, we see Ford India is ticking up, thanks to the five new products launched in 2015, including the iconic Mustang. The Indian operations saw a 25% growth in domestic sales and 40% growth in exports so far this year.”
“India is not only a vibrant market for cars and new mobility solutions, it is also rich with talent, technical expertise and ingenuity,” Ford said, adding, “This new tech centre will help us attract intellectuals to be part of a true innovation hub for our future products development.”
On the lower sales in the domestic market over the years, he said: “We have gone through some challenging times in India for various reasons. It’s common for any car company in the world. However, with the launch of five new products in 2015, the Indian operations saw pick-up in momentum for Ford vehicles. With exports coming into play a major role, particularly with 70% of total sales, Ford India will become more active in the years to come.” With changing environmental norms across the globe, Ford is focusing on smarter mobility solutions, using greener technologies to ensure safer, secured mobility solutions. The Chennai centre will work on advanced financial analysis, future data analytics and connected vehicles solutions, he added.
Speaking to FE on, David L Schoch, president, Ford Asia Pacific, said: “The Indian operations are also witnessing an encouraging trend on powertrain exports. We have created a huge capacity across two plants and this would serve both global, as well as Asia Pacific in particular.”