Ford small car set to hit Indian roads by early 10

Written by Shweta Bhanot | Mumbai | Updated: Jun 30 2009, 06:31am hrs
Ford India has started testing prototypes of its small car, which it says is on track and will be hitting the Indian roads early 2010. The small car is expected to have a localisation of around 85% from the start to production stage.

Around 300 prototypes of the small car are already on the road for testing, said Michael Boneham, president and managing director, Ford India. He added that the car is predominantly designed for the Indian market and will be exported to other markets after its launch in the country.

It (small car) is from the common global platform with design inputs from Europe and Australia, while contributions from Indian suppliers, he said. Further, the car will have petrol and diesel engine options. We are looking at sub-1.2 petrol and sub-1.5 diesel engines for the car, he added.

The company is currently producing around 60,000 (1.4-litre Duratorq) diesel engines at its engine plant near Chennai, which it said will be ramped up to 2.5 lakh, including both petrol and diesel engines, by this year end. These will also be exported from India to Asia Pacific and Africa, he said. All of the diesel engines for Ikon, Fiesta and Fusion are locally produced.

Till now, the company has made an investment of around $900 million in the country. This includes $500 million for the new engine plant, the upcoming small car project and ramping up of the vehicle assembling capacity from 1 lakh units to 2 lakh.

Indicating that the launch of the small car will be the dawn of new era for the brand in the country, Boneham said, The company plans to be a major player in the small car market in the country, which occupies 70% of the automotive sales. At the same time, we plan to offer products in other segments as well in a bid to keep our customers engaged throughout the upgrading cycle.

Ford sells Ikon, Fiesta, Fusion and Endeavour in India. It sold 30,000 units last year and is looking at achieving a similar target this year.