Ford CEO Mark Fields was recently in India for the inauguration of the company’s new manufacturing facility in Sanand, Gujarat. While there, he reaffirmed the automaker’s commitment to the market and pledged that FoMoCo will turn India into an export hub in the coming years.
The new, $1-billion manufacturing facility is a major step for Ford in India, a market where the company has yet to find much success despite doing business there for almost two decades. However, Fields is confident that The Blue Oval will find its footing in the world’s second-most populous country. How?
For starters, Fields sees huge opportunity in the market, “Last year we sold 6.6 million (vehicles globally). Now when you look at the growth now and the end of the decade, almost 50% of the global growth will be in China and India, so you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess, that you have to be successful in India,” he said to The Economic Times.
Fields also laid bare a number of the automaker’s important goals, initiatives and plans for the Indian market, including:
- India plays a very important role in the company’s plan to boost global sales 45-50 percent versus today – it hopes to grow to 9.6 million sales in the future, though no specific timeframe was given.
- Ford has invested over $2 billion in its facilities in India.
- The new plant in Sanand will allow the company to double its manufacturing capacity in the country, helping boost vehicle production in India to over 440,000 units a year and engine production to over 610,000 units a year once the facility is fully online. Once online, the new plant will add 2,500 jobs and boost Ford’s overall workforce in the country to more than 14,000 people.
- Make India an export hub and a “global center of excellence” for small vehicles and small displacement engines.
- Triple exports from the country over the next five years.
- Expand the segments in which it competes in India while introducing three new vehicles over the next 12-18 months.
Will Ford turn around its performance in the Indian market in the face of strong competition from Suzuki (Maruti Suzuki) and others? We’ll have to wait and see, as the automaker is taking the long-term approach.
“I think, the stage is set for some healthy growth in [India’s] gross domestic product… but also growth in the industry. But we take a long view. And if you always take the short term view, I think it will hurt your brand, the customer, it will hurt your long-term prospects,” Fields told ET.