India will soon become the global hub for Ford Motor Company's compact SUV segment
. This was announced by Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company in Chennai on Monday.
Mulally was in Chennai to roll out the production of the compact SUV EcoSport at its Chennai manufacturing facility where the company has invested $142 million to create an all new production line that can produce up to 10 different variants of the EcoSport.
The Chennai facility is one of the five plants that will produce this model.
"India is a great market and is the lead edge indicator as to what people want in the world," he said, pointing out that Ford's compact car Figo
is being exported to over 38 countries from Chennai. "India is not only a great market but also a great place to build world class vehicles. The Chennai team, together with our supplier partners, have done an outstanding job in delivering our customers a great looking, fuel efficient, safe, compact utility vehicle with impressive functionality and connectivity, at a very affordable price."
Mulally also allayed fears that the slowdown in the global economy - or the Indian economy - would affects Ford's strategy. "The slowdown will not come in the way of our commitment to India or the Asia-Pacific. We look at the long-term and in the long term nothing is going to come in the way of economic development in the world and in India. That is our point of view," he added.
Mulally also said in the next five years the Asia-Pacific region would account for a significant size of Ford's business and the company has been making large investments to make this a reality.
"Till 2011, the total investments Ford had made
in India was $1 billion and in 2012 we just doubled that amount. This clearly demonstrates the company's commitment to India," said Joginder Singh, President and Managing Director, Ford India.
Replying to the criticism that Ford has been slow in taking advantage of opportunities in India, Mulally admitted that six year ago India was not in Ford's scheme of things. But once Ford decided to serve every market in the world, investments were made in production facilities and models.
"Today all the investment are in place. The product strategy is in place," he added.
When asked about Ford's decision to sell Jaguar Land Rover (which under the Tata Motors has turned profitable), Mulally said he was pleased Tata group purchased it.
"When I arrived in Ford a decision was made to sell many marque brands. This was because 85 per cent of the sales were from Ford and Lincoln brands. We were clear that for company's strong future we needed to focus on the Ford brands. So we began to look for a good home for brands such as Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo. It was a decision that helped turn around Ford," he said.