Ford upbeat about Indian market, says expansion plans on track


Chennai : The Indian arm of the US automobile giant Ford Motor Co. has said the financial problems faced by the parent company have not eroded Ford’s brand equity in the country, and its $500-million expansion plans are on track.

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“We haven’t heard any prospective car buyer in India saying no to a Ford car just because the parent company is facing some financial problems,” Ford India executive director (marketing, sales and service) Nigel E. Wark told IANS.

“We don’t find any need to hike our corporate brand spend in India. If needed, we will not hesitate to do that,” he added.

The global automobile major was hit badly by the economic recession in the US and also steep fall in sales this year.

According to Wark, sales went down this year mainly due to the credit squeeze.

Having sold around 26,000 units till October this year, Ford India is expected to close the year with sales of 30,000 units, down from last year’s 36,000.

Wark held that the $500-million expansion plans were on track and “the small car that we will launch in 2010 is being designed and developed in our research centre in Australia”.

The company is also planning to double the capacity of the Maraimalainagar plant, near Chennai, to 200,000 units and set up a low displacement engine and transmission plant with a capacity of 250,000 units.

“We will have a range of models. The new investment is not just to roll out one small car model,” Wark said.

Ford India vice-president (sales) Timothy D. Tucker said the company was taking necessary steps to expand its distribution network. “We will be adding dealers in tier II and III cities.”

Presently Ford India has 138 dealers in 78 cities.