Ford issues fast planning for Indian export hub image

Big appetite for small cars and utility vehicles throughout Asia has accelerated Ford’s plan to make India an export hub, despite the local slump in car sales.

Addressing at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ annual convention, Dave Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific said that by 2018, Ford India will be able to export half the vehicles it makes there.

“Despite current macroeconomic factors and ongoing market challenges, India is a key part of our global strategy,” Schoch said. “Exports from India will help us to stay on track for turbocharged growth in the region.”

The Dearborn-based automaker is undergoing its biggest industrial expansion in 50 years, building plants in China, India and Thailand. While China’s expansion has been focused on domestic sales, Thailand has long been an export hub for many automakers.

Now, from India, Ford wants to ship to up to 50 countries. Officials would not say how many markets India-built vehicles are sold in today. Ford executives forecast that by 2020, demand for small vehicles will account for more than 60% of global auto sales and half of the volume will be in Asia, Pacific and Africa.

At the moment, Ford has capacity for 200,000 vehicles at its plant in Chennai, India, that makes the Ford Fiesta, EcoSport, Figo and Endeavour. A nearby engine plant can make 340,000 gasoline and diesel engines a year.

Next up, the second engine plant under construction in Sanand will open in 2014, adding 270,000 engines a year. Also, a car new assembly plant in Sanand will be able to make 240,000 vehicles a year, starting in 2015. That will bring Ford India annual capacity to 440,000 vehicles and 610,000 engines.