Global auto major Ford Motor is working on a comeback to the Indian market with a focus on hybrid and electric vehicles. The company may use its manufacturing facility in Chennai for producing these cars, according to sources.

Also read: Tatas to list electric vehicles business 

“In its comeback to India, Ford will play on factors which are its strength in the US market. Globally, Ford is strong in the SUV (sports utility vehicles) segment and hybrid and EV power terrains have emerged as its dominant play. It plans to replicate its global strategy in India as well,” said a person with knowledge of the development. It is also learnt that Ford may have applied for patent for in India for EcoSport, its once best-seller in the SUV category.

JV collaboration

As part of fortifying its presence in India, Ford Motor may be keen to collaborate with a local manufacturing partner. In this connection, sources say the auto major is in talks with the Tata Group for a possible joint venture. “Being a market leader in the EV segment, Tata will be the first port of call for Ford,” said a senior executive in the automobiles sector. However, the re-entry into India will not be contingent on the JV materialising with the Tatas, he clarified. “Given that Ford is very clear that it wants to be in the Indian market, it will go ahead with its plans whether or not there is a JV partner,” said another industry source.

Export hub

Being proximate to the port and logistically advantageous, Ford is planning to utilise its local facility in India as a export hub for the Asia Pacific region. “Located in Chennai, the plant in Maraimalar Nagar will be the export hub for Ford to cater to the APAC region,” said one of the sources cited above. It may be recalled that in December 2023, Ford terminated its agreement to sell the Chennai manufacturing to JSW, despite the transaction being considered a done deal, while Ford India’s Gujarat plant was sold to Tata Motors. For the Tata group, if the JV consummates, it may give the Indian auto giant an entry into EV market in the US.

Sources add that Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley is likely to make a visit to India in September to crystallise and implement the carmaker’s renewed plans to re-enter the Indian market.

When contacted, Ford Motor said that it would refrain from commenting on unsubstantiated speculation, while Tata Motors said, “As a policy and practice we do not comment on market rumours”.

Also read: Taxes in India are high, but people buying such cars are able to digest them: Lamborghini CMO

In September 2021, Ford decided to halt operations in India citing reasons of unviable operations and mounting losses. A year later, while there were talks of coming back to India, plans were scrapped quickly because of unfeasible market conditions, particularly for EVs.