Ford to invest USD 500 mn for Indian operations

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Chennai, Jan 8: Ford Motor Company today announced plans to invest US Dollar 500 million to expand its Indian operations with new initiatives, including expansion of its current manufacturing facility here, to manufacture small cars within the next two years and setting up of a fully-integrated and flexible engine manufacturing plant that will go online by 2010.

Ford Motor Company Executive Vice- President (Asia Pacific and Africa) John Parket said the new investment plan for India had begun and would be over, in a phased manner, in three years. ''The first phase, currently underway, includes addition of a diesel engine assembly plant at the Chennai site. It will have an initial annual capacity of 50,000 units,'' he said. The first engines, scheduled to be rolled out in April, would be used in the production of the 'Fiesta' and 'Fusion'.

A significant part of the investment would be utilised for the development of new product programmes, primarily to expand the Chennai plant and accommodate volume production of small cars.

''Production of the small car is scheduled to commence within the next two years, increasing the overall annual production at the expanded plant to two lakh units by 2010,'' Mr Parket claimed.

Ford Managing Director Arvind Mathew said, ''the second major component of the plant, is a state-of-the-art and fully-integrated engine manufacturing facility, to be set up adjacent to the vehicle plant.'' ''This new flexible facility will be capable of manufacturing both petrol engines and Ford's next generation diesel engines,'' he said adding ''initial annual production capacity will be 2,50,000 units, with the fast engines coming off line by 2020.'' The production at the diesel assembly plant, currently under construction, would be integrated into the new facility. The new facility and capacity expansion would generate more than 9,000 jobs, including 1,500 direct and 7,500 indirect employment.

''This turn will compound additional investment by its suppliers and vendors and contribute to the overall growth of country's auto industry,'' Mr Mathew said.

The company has added 20 new authorised dealers in 2007, bringing the total to 130 locations across the country.

''It also plans to expand its dealership base to accommodate the planned rise in domestic sales,'' he addded.

UNI

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