Ford Motor Company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Fields (pictured) is expected to inaugurate the US-based car maker’s second production facility in India at Sanand, Gujarat. The plant, which began trials recently, will start production of the new Figo sedan and hatchback models around the same time. Fields, a Ford veteran with over 25 years in the company and its affiliates like Mazda, is continuing with his predecessor Alan Mulally’s policy of seeking growth in emerging markets, especially India. Fields last visited India as CEO-designate a month before he took charge in July 2014. He was one of the first international CEOs to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Fields’ upcoming visit and the several visits by other senior Ford executives, including Mulally, makes it clear that India is not only a key market but a major export base for cars and engines,” a source close to the development said. Responding to emailed queries, a Ford India spokesperson said, “Ford’s Sanand plant in Gujarat is gearing to be fully operational, with vehicles and engines rolling off the assembly line by the end of the first quarter in 2015. A formal communication on the plant’s inauguration along with executive availability will be made at an appropriate time.
We would not like to comment on speculation at this point.” Of three new cars planned for this year, Ford is expected to launch the Figo sedan first around July, followed by its hatchback version around September and the new Endeavour SUV around December. At Gujarat, Ford has capacity to produce 240,000 cars and 270,000 engines. This will be in addition to the 200,000 cars and 340,000 engines it can make in its plant near Chennai.
Ford's India strategy is a stark contrast to the other US-based automaker General Motors, which according to market sources has no new significant model plans at least till 2016-17. Despite the success of the EcoSport compact SUV, Ford India's domestic sales between April and December this fiscal fell 11.34% to 57,279 units. Its market share stood at 3% in India's 25 lakh unit passenger vehicle market.