Companies

Ford looking to achieve full capacity; plans to expand soon

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on April 08, 2011 Published on April 07, 2011

Mr Michael Boneham (right), President and Managing Director, Ford India, and Mr Nigel E. Wark, Executive Director - Marketing, Sales and Services, at the launch of Ford `Fiesta Classic’ in Chennai on Thursday. – Bijoy Ghosh

fiesta

On the back of buoyant sales last year and the prospect of an encore in the current, Ford India expects to hit full capacity utilisation of its plant in Chennai shortly, and consequently has begun thinking of expanding its facilities.

Ford India's President and Managing Director, Mr Micheal Boneham, today said that the company would make “some announcements in the near future” in this regard.

The Ford plant at Maraimalainagar near Chennai can produce 150,000 cars on a two-shift basis and 200,000 with three shifts. In 2010-11, the company's production crossed the 100,000 mark. Sales were 98,537 cars, three times as many as in the previous year — primarily driven by the small car, Figo, which sold 85,000.

In May last year, on the occasion of the inauguration of Ford's new engine plant, Mr Boneham said that the car plant capacity of 200,000 would be fully utilised in five years. He disagreed then that it was a modest target, given that in the previous year, the company had sold only 30,000 cars.

“Yes, we were pleasantly surprised,” he said today in reference to last year's sales. “We didn't really know what the level of pull would be,” he said.

The question is, if the current momentum of sales continued — as it is expected to — when will Ford hit full capacity utilisation and what plans it has for expansion.

Mr Boneham did not give details about either the timing or size of the expansion programme. Everything, he said, depended upon the market. “While we are proud of our achievements, we are also very humble.”

However, he did say that Ford was “very happy being in Tamil Nadu”. Answering a question, he said that there was sufficient room for one more plant in the present complex, which is spread over a 350-acre piece of land.

Ford Fiesta Classic launched

Ford today launched a new car on the Fiesta platform — the Fiesta Classic. The car is “positioned right in the middle of the ‘B' segment”.

Fiesta Classic comes in two versions, petrol and diesel and in two variants in each version. Mr Boneham said that he expected the car market to grow 15-20 per cent in calendar 2011, from 1.8 million units in 2010.

He spoke of the launch of one more car, “an aspirational Fiesta, later this year, made entirely on a different platform”.

Ford has also big expectations of the Figo. The company was among the earliest to set up shop in India (1996) but until last year did not have a small car in its product portfolio, though India is a recognised small car country.

“We are slow learners, but when we learn, we deliver,” Mr Boneham said, in a lighter vein.

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Published on April 07, 2011
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