Ford Motor Company on Tuesday announced plans to invest $500 million to expand its India operations, which will include a small car and a new integrated engine plant at its factory near Chennai.
"The new investment increases Ford's total financial commitment in India to more than $875 million, and underscores its plan to elevate India as one of the strategic production hubs for small cars in the company's Asia-Pacific and Africa region. India is a priority market for Ford," observed Arvind Mathew, president and MD of Ford India.
Mathew said that the overall investment plan for India has already commenced, and will be implemented in phases over the next three years.
In the first phase a diesel engine assembly plant with an initial annual capacity of 50,000 units will roll out engines to be used in the locally made Fiesta and Fusion by April 2008.
A significant part of the investment will be used for the development of new product programmes, primarily to expand the Chennai plant and accommodate volume production of the new small car. Production of the small car is scheduled to commence within two years, increasing the overall annual production to 200,000 by 2010.
Mathew, however, refused to divulge the engine capacity or the price of the small car. "It will be smaller than the Fusion, which is already classified as a small car by Indian norms," is all he would disclose. Asked if Ford was not entering the small car market a bit late, he replied that the company had a solid portfolio that was being expanded on either side.