Chennai: Car maker Ford India commenced export of its latest small car -- Figo, to South Africa as part of its plan to make India an export hub.
The company will also hire 1,000 people for its Chennai facility by the end of this year.
“We are very excited... Today it is the first shipment of Figo to South Africa,” Ford India managing director Michael Boneham said.
The company exported 1,200 units of its newly launched compact car ‘Figo’ to Durban as completely-built-units (CBU). The lot comprised equal numbers of petrol and diesel options.
Stating that their biggest problem was “capacity” with demand for the vehicles picking up, Boneham said, “South Africa was an impatient customer (for us)... We have got over 5,000 units in orders (for Figo).”
“This year we are expecting it (exports of Figo) to be around 3,000 units”, he added.
Besides South Africa, he said the company could export to newer markets, which it would announce in next few weeks.
“I am not going to say anything about our newer markets. It will not be United States or Europe, but it will be pretty special markets... We will announce it in couple of weeks time,” he added.
The company also sells its mid-sized sedan ‘Ford Fiesta’ as ‘Ford Ikon’ in South Africa.
To meet the domestic demand, the company has started a second shift of production from today at its manufacturing facility in Maraimalai Nagar near Chennai.
“The Ford Figo has a capacity of one lakh units and with the addition of second shift, it will go up to 1.40 lakh,” Boneham said.
Due to the additional shift, the company would recruit 1,000 employees at the facility by this year end, he said.
Since its launch in March, the company has so far received 24,000 bookings, out of which about 17,000 units were sold, he added.
On the exports of its diesel engines to Thailand, Boneham said the company will export 2,500 units of 1.6 litre engines, mainly for the mid-sized sedan Fiesta, within a month.