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Monday, Aug 04, 2003

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Ford India to roll out Everest next month

Sudha Menon

Pune , Aug. 3

CAR manufacturer Ford India Ltd, whose made-in-India car portfolio is currently limited to its popular Ikon model, has commenced work on its next Indian offering, a mid-size car based on the Fusion model and is expected to roll it out in the market next year.

The company is also getting ready to add some sizzle to its basket of offerings with a string of launches in the coming months. Top company sources told Business Line that Ford India is all set for a September debut for its SUV, Everest, launched in Thailand in March this year. Next in line will be an entry into the pick-up vehicle segment where it will launch its two-cab Ranger in November.

A company spokesperson, when contacted declined to comment on the Fusion project. "The Ikon has proved that we can make a world class car in India and sell it at a great value proposition. In Ford Motor Company's centennial year we will continue the effort," he said.

"While we have a number of new product launches before the end of 2003, we are just now focussing on more propositions on the Ikon," he said.

Meanwhile, the company sources said that the Ranger and the Everest, built on the same platform, would come in through the CKD route from Thailand. While the Everest, which will be renamed for India, will be available in a 2.5-litre turbo diesel version with a price range of around Rs 13 lakh, the Ranger will come with a 2.5-litre engine and a Rs 8-lakh plus price tag.

The CKD route will ensure aggressive pricing to fight competition from Grand Vitara, the Chevrolet Forrester and the Pajero, which cost over Rs 16 lakh since they are CBUs.

Meanwhile, the company is right now in the midst of freezing details of its next all-Indian car, sources said, adding that it is right now working on a large, luxurious 2-box car with boot space built to fit the Indian family's requirements. Work on the development of the car is in full swing at its Maraimalainagar facility. The car will be available in 1.6-litre petrol and 1.8 ltr diesel versions. "With 100 per cent localisation from day one, the company is hoping to keep the car's pricing low at around Rs 5 lakh in a bid to drive volumes," sources said, adding that it expects to sell 25,000 units after its launch in the second quarter of 2004.

Sources said work is also on briskly for the model that will replace its existing Ikon model and said it is expected to be launched in 2005. "2004 will be the take-off year for Ford in India and the company will launch at least one new model every year beginning next year," sources said.

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