Ford to invest $500 mln in India, produce small car

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (UNI) Ford India today said it will invest about 500 million dollars in the country to expand capacity of its existing plant, start an engine facility and manufacture small car.

''We will invest about 500 million dollars in producing a small car, engine and for expansion of our current plant,'' company Vice-President Marketing, Sales and Service Scot McCormack said on the sidelines of a conference here.

The company targets to produce 2.5 lakh units of engine, he said, adding that the engines produced may not necessarily be used in the country.

The fully integrated engine manufacturing facility, to be constructed adjacent to the current plant, will make engines of smaller displacement for both petrol and diesel variants.

The car maker, which makes the Ikon, Fusion, Fiesta and Endeavour currently buys its petrol engines from the Rs 570-crore Avtec Ltd, a GP-CK Birla group company.

Mr McCormack said the company's relation with Avtec will continue and the new engine facility is only a matter of ''economics and feasibility''.

India is being considered as one of the strategic production hubs for all cars in the company's Asia-Pacific and African region.

The first phase of investment plan for India is currently underway and includes the addition of a diesel engine assembly plant at Chennai site which will have an initial annual capacity of 50,000 units.

The production of the small car is scheduled to commence by 2010 increasing the overall annual production at the expanded plant from its present one lakh units to two lakh units by 2010.

On sales front, 2008 has seen some softening of demand due to weak consumer sentiments. However, Mr McCormack said the company is taking all recourse available, including new launches to ramp up sales.

Ford launched the new Endeavour Thunder Plus today priced at Rs 17.32 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi.

For 2007, the company sold about 40,000 vehicles in the country and expect to maintain the market share or even increase it this year.

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