In an indication of the increasing importance of the Indian market, Ford Motor Company Chairman and CEO Bill Ford made his first visit to India this week to launch the Ford Fiesta, an all-new sedan developed specifically for that market by Ford’s global engineering team.
As we accelerate our effort to meet the global challenges of our business, I have emphasized the importance of optimizing our global footprint by investing in areas that are growing. India is right at the top of that list. This market is critical to our plans for building a Ford Motor Company for the 21st century.—Bill Ford
Ford also met with the the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Selvi J Jayalalithaa, during his two day visit to the country.
According to a report by PTI (Press Trust of India), Ford indicated during the meeting that the company is considering expanding production of its hybrid cars to India. Ford has already drawn up expansion plans for its plant near Chennai, although not targeted at hybrids production.
The new four-door Fiesta will be introduced with two available powertrains: the Duratec gasoline 1.6-liter engine and the Duratorq 1.4-liter TDCi diesel. This marks the introduction of Ford’s Turbo Direct Common Rail injection (TDCi) technology in India.
When the Fiesta goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2005, it will become the fifth new product for Ford in India since 1999, joining the Ikon, Mondeo, Endeavor and Fusion.
For the Indian market, Fiesta benefits from enhanced requirement standards deployed as part of a Ford global practice for monsoon regions. Extensive water wading tests were successfully conducted to develop Fiesta as a vehicle capable of wading through Indian monsoon flooding, handling bow waves, while not allowing ingress of water into the body compartment and other water-sensitive systems.
In 2004, Ford India sold 27,064 vehicles. Ford also placed among the top three automotive brands in the recently released J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2005 India Customer Satisfaction Index Study.
The Indian market is extremely competitive, with GM, Hyundai and Indian automakers Maruti and Tata dominating. Ford and Mazda combined vie competitively with Toyota, Honda and others in the field.
The midsize car market is the highest growth segment. Over the last couple of years, this segment has been expanding at twice the rate of the overall market. Passenger cars in general are expected to grow by six percent by 2013.
India also plays a major role in Ford exports and as a supplier base for Asia. Ford India exports Ikon kits to South Africa and South America, and components are exported to China.