Ford to Make India Export Hub

Ford India will export compact Figo

Ford said on March 9 that it will start exporting its top-selling Figo compact car from India to Mexico and more than 50 other countries as it strives to make the South Asian nation an export hub.

Ford, like some other global carmakers, is aiming to make India a launch pad for small car exports, seeing the country's low-cost base as a chance to grow in a segment expected to account for 60% of global car sales within a decade.

The Figo "will be shipped to various international markets, including Mexico, Middle East, North Africa and Caribbean markets this year," said Ford India president Michael Boneham. Ford has said it expects 70% of its growth to come from Asia-Pacific and Africa in the next decade.

The first shipment of 1,500 Figos, which have 85% Indian content, will go to Mexico next week.

The second largest U.S. automaker by sales said it was also on track to launch eight new car models in the fast-growing Indian market by mid-decade with the premium Fiesta sedan to be introduced this year.

India is one of the world's fastest-growing markets for automobiles worldwide thanks to growing personal incomes of the country's estimated 350 million middle class.

On March 9, industry data showed local car sales hit a monthly record of 189,000 vehicles in February, up 23% from the same month a year earlier, boosted by the introduction of small cars such as the Figo and Toyota's Etios.

The country has turned into a battleground for global manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen which are seeking to offset sluggish sales at home.

Ford, which entered India in 1995 but was slower than some rivals in attacking the market, estimates it has a 3% percent market share.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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