Barely a month into singing a pact with the Gujarat government to build a plant, Ford Motor Company has started developing a global small car to be manufactured at its new Sanand facility.
Ford’s new small car, which will take on the likes of Maruti Suzuki A Star and Hyundai i10, will be the cheapest yet from the US auto major's stable. The Sanand unit, situated next to the Tata's Nano plant, will be one of the big export hubs for the car, apart from China and Brazil.
The car, which is expected to hit the Indian market by early 2014, is likely to be priced at Rs 3-4 lakh and will be positioned below the company’s other small car Figo. When contacted a Ford India spokesperson said: “Ford India has announced bringing eight new products by mid-decade that customers want and desire. We recently launched the global Fiesta, first of the eight new products, which is generating great interest. We have not made any specific announcements of future products to be manufactured from our new or current manufacturing sites.”
The company had earlier said that the first vehicle from the Sanand facility is expected to be rolled out in early 2014. Ford’s research and development centre in Brazil is currently developing the car and the company has approached component makers in India for local manufacturing, said people familiar with the matter.
The car will be part of the eight new products that the company has lined up for the Indian market by 2015. Code named B562, the small car will be built on an all-new platform, and is likely to be powered by a 1-litre Ecoboost petrol engine. The company sees a potential of selling more than 2,17,000 units of the new small car, including exports, in the first 12-18 months and has asked vendors to be ready for that kind of volume. With launch of Figo, Ford India tripled its annual sales to 83,887 units in 2010.
The small car market in India, driven by rising disposable income of the middle class, holds huge potential for carmakers. Leading global auto companies such as Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen and domestic firms like Tata Motors are actively pursuing the segment, said industry experts. Ford had earlier said that small cars will drive its volumes in India for the coming decade and sees potential for multiple small cars to take on the increasing competition. The country’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, is not surprised.
”With increasing income and growing number of first-time buyers, we expect the A2 segment to be large chunk of small car market. We have strong product portfolio and going forward as well, we would continue to strengthen our portfolio,“ said Sashank Srivastava, chief general manager-marketing, Maruti.