Chennai: Auto major Ford on Monday said its latest SUV Ecosport is being rolled out from its manufacturing facility at nearby Maraimalai Nagar. The Chennai facility is the third of five plants where Ford EcoSport will be manufactured. Currently, the SUV is being produced in Brazil, China,and production would begin in Thailand, Russia, a company statement here said.
Ford India has made USD 142 million investment to produce EcoSport at the facility, which also produces its highly popular hatchback Figo, midsize sedan Classic, premium SUV Endeavour and premium sedan Fiesta.
After having a first hand account at its manufacturing facility on Monday, Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally said, "The EcoSport looks fantastic. The Chennai team, together with our supplier partners has done an outstanding job in delivering customers a great looking, fuel efficient, safe compact utility vehicle, at a very affordable price".
Ford would produce two million vehicles annually on its B-platform by 2015. As part of the One Ford plan, EcoSport is based on the company's B-platform.
"The EcoSport is a great example of Ford's dealership in the global shift to fuel-efficient and functional utility vehicles", Ford Group, Vice President and President Asia Pacific, David Schoch said.
According to IHS automotive, global small utility vehicle sales grew 154 percent between 2005 and 2012. Ford India, President and Managing Director Joginder Singh, said,"we are on the verge of something exciting for Ford India. As you know the next game changer for us, and we believe it is not only a game changer for Ford in India, but we are going to set a new standard in the industry as well."
"As you know, our shipments have begun and our dealers are accepting bookings as we speak. So, we see a very clear milestone in the launch of Ecosport.", he told reporters.

India set to become a hub for Ford

With India leading the small SUV market and attracting majority of investments from Ford Motor Company, the country is set to become a hub for the US automobile major, a top official said on Monday.
"Yes. Absolutely. That is our dream. India is great market and an indicator of about what people really want in vehicles around the world. The (latest SUV from Ford) Ecosport is a really good example", Ford Motor Company President and Chief Executive Officer, Alan Mulally told reporters.
Observing that India is one of the important markets for Ford globally, he said, "small SUV segment on the B size platform is the fastest growing segments which is led by India. We are making Ecosport in five locations around the world. And it is going to be most popular vehicle worldwide. So it (The launch) is very important launch for us".
He said Ford is making long-term commitments on strategies in rolling out products and currently is on a "positive path" on its growth.
"We are number one brand in United States and number two in all Americas. In Europe we are the fastest growing brand. We have made tremendous commitment interms of man and money investments", he said.
Asked about the company's focus on its Asia-Pacific operations, Mulally said the management has not made any specific time frame on reaping profits, but expects a significant revenue to be contributed from this region.
"Clearly, in the next few years, it (Asia Pacific region) is going to be a major contributor to Ford. I think in four-five years, 40 percent of revenue will come from Asia Pacific. This is the largest growing region in the world", he said.
Currently, Ford has garnered about three percent market share in the Asia Pacific region. Elaborating, Ford Group Vice-President and President (Asia Pacific), David Schoch said the company has lined up some strategies in growing the business in the region.
"We have got certain plans under construction throughout the Asia Pacific. We have got five plants in China and two in India. We are working hard. This (region) is going to be a major contributor for Ford", he said.
To a query, Mulally said products to be launched will be based out its popular 'B' size segment. Noting that the company was shipping its popular hatchback 'Figo' to 38 countries from India, Mulally indicated that they would continue exporting its products in large numbers from India.
"We are going to continue export of more and more vehicles from India because India is so competitive. More and more vehicles getting exported is great for India and (also for) Ford", he said.

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