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Ford eyes small car segment, may drive Fiesta hatchback into India

Ford eyes small car segment, may drive Fiesta hatchback into India
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First Published: Tue, Jan 08 2008. 12 11 AM IST

Gearing up: The American auto maker’s India arm is firming up plans to start producing the Ford Fiesta supermini hatchback in the country.
Gearing up: The American auto maker’s India arm is firming up plans to start producing the Ford Fiesta supermini hatchback in the country.
Updated: Tue, Jan 08 2008. 12 11 AM IST
Car maker Ford India Pvt. Ltd, the wholly owned unit of American company Ford Motor Co., is gearing up to bring its Fiesta supermini hatchback from Europe into the Indian market with a new marquee, according to vendors familiar with the situation.
The car maker is firming up plans to commence production of the car, which it hopes to sell commercially in the country by end-2009, taking on established models in the segment, including brands such as the Getz and the Alto.
Vendors familiar with the development, who did not wish to be named because it would affect their confidential talks with the company, said Ford is currently involved in early vendor identification for the project, which it is betting will bring in much needed volumes.
Gearing up: The American auto maker’s India arm is firming up plans to start producing the Ford Fiesta supermini hatchback in the country.
Ford’s overseas Fiesta model is one of the most successful small cars sold in the world, with sales of more than 11 million in seven generations since its launch in 1976. It is different from the Fiesta the company sells here, which is a sedan.
Ford did not respond with an official comment to queries on the introduction of the vehicle in India.
Last year, Ford’s India head Arvind Mathew had said he was willing to look at making a small car in the country as long as the government policy on lower taxes and car specifications remained constant.
Initial production figures are not being kept very high and will be around 50,000 units a year, both vendors said.
In India, the excise rate for small cars, which are under 4m in length, is 16% compared with sedans that are taxed at 22%. The small car segment, as a result, is the highest selling segment and the country’s market leader, which sells half the cars in the country, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd sells the most in this category with its Alto.
Ford came to India in 1998 with its Escort model that made way for the indigenously produced Ikon in 2001. The auto maker currently sells the Fusion, the Ikon and Fiesta sedans and the Endeavour utility vehicle. Last year, it sold more than 42,000 units here.
The company already exports its Ikon model and recently started exporting the Fiesta to South Africa.
The company is also in the process of setting up a 300,000 unit engine manufacturing facility at its Chennai plant to feed demand in the Asia-Pacific markets, and indications are that engines for the new car will be from this plant, the vendors said.
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First Published: Tue, Jan 08 2008. 12 11 AM IST