Ford India’s integrated manufacturing plant near Chennai is poised to begin volume production of a soon-to-be-introduced global small car after a $500-million transformation to double the plant’s capacity and become a strategic production hub for Ford Motor Company.
The Maraimalai Nagar plant will be the first Ford volume car plant globally to introduce the new Three-Wet High-Solids paint process (earlier post). New stamping, flexible body shop and assembly line systems with advanced automation are highlights of the expansion, which doubles annual production capacity to 200,000. A further expansion phase, for a new integrated manufacturing facility for diesel engines, continues to progress. With a capacity of 250,000 engines a year, it is due on line in 2010.
The expansion marks a major shift for the plant, which has been producing Ford models solely for the India market, including the Ford Ikon, Ford Fiesta, Ford Fusion and Ford Endeavour.
The new plant also features an enlarged supplier park. According to Ford India, up to 85% of parts supplies for the new car will be derived from India. The plant’s site improvements include new truck staging facilities being constructed on the plant grounds to position waiting delivery and transport vehicles off the roadside of the national highway.
Ford is already conducting pre-production test building of its new car in the plant facility and will be gearing up in the fourth quarter 2009 toward the start of volume production in the new year.
Suzuki Motor Expansion.. Separately, the Nikkei reports that Suzuki Motor Corp. will spend around ¥30 billion (US$323 million) to build a new car factory in India by 2011, boosting its local output capacity by 30% to 1.3 million vehicles annually—a level comparable to its Japanese operations.
Maruti Suzuki, the local unit which controls nearly 50% of the Indian auto market, will build the plant adjacent to its existing Manesar facilities in the northern Indian state of Haryana, about 50km southwest of New Delhi. The new factory will have annual output capacity of 300,000 units, about the same as the current Manesar facilities. The expansion will make the Manesar complex similar in scope to Suzuki’s main plant in Gurgaon.