With its $1-billion Sanand car plant becoming operational, American auto giant Ford is looking at increasing exports from India by three times over the next five years. The plant, the company’s second in India, was inaugurated by Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel.
The Gujarat unit will double Ford’s manufacturing capacity in India. Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford, also unveiled the new compact sedan, Ford Figo Aspire, which will be the first car to be rolled out of the plant later this year.
“The plant has an installed capacity of 2.4 lakh vehicles and 2.7 lakh engines annually. Ford India will now have a total installed capacity of 4.4 lakh vehicles and 6.1 lakh engines every year. We are expecting to triple our exports from India,” Fields told mediapersons. At present, Ford India exports 60,000-70,000 units annually to over 35 global markets from its Chennai facility. With the new plant, Ford India is looking at exporting to 50 countries.
Sprawled across 460 acres, the state support agreement for the plant was signed in July 2011 and it took almost four years to construct.
Faced with a slowdown, Ford has adjusted its product launch strategy for India, with only three new products lined in the next 18 months, two short of the earlier plan. Earlier, in 2010, the company had said it would launch eight new products in the country by the middle of the decade. Since making the announcement, it has launched only three.
“Obviously, you have to look at market trends. You have to look how the economy is doing. So we changed our plan. We adjusted our plan accordingly but at the same time we are going to offer three new products in the next 12-18 months,” added Fields.
The newly unveiled Ford Figo Aspire is expected to go on sale before Diwali this year. The highly competitive compact segment accounted for about 45% of the Indian market in 2014. Ford expects the segment to grow to around 1.6 million units by 2018, from 1.1 million units currently.