Ford India is betting big on its small car, to be launched early next year, to shore up its market share in the country. The product will be available in both petrol and diesel.
When asked if the launch of its small car will not be rather late in view of many other car makers planning to launch their small car in 2010. Ford India president and managing director Michael Boneham said: “It’s never late. Small car segment is a bigger segment, which is expanding fast in India. We will carve out a niche for our product on the basis of quality and fuel efficiency."
Honda has already launched its small car “Jazz” last week and Toyota and Volkswagen plan to bring competing products to the local market in 2010 only.
Small car segment is the most competitive market in India. Every car maker present in India wants to be part of the volume segment. Three out of every four cars sold in the country are small cars, a segment currently dominated by largest car-maker Maruti Udyog Ltd, which has 50 per cent of the market.
"The prototype of the car is ready and we are hoping big numbers. The small car would be launched not only for Indian markets but also be exported to Asia Pacific and African regions," Boneham said.
He also said that the company would not stop at the launch of its small car but would also launch other globally successful cars in India gradually.
Ford India president also said that though raising finance is challenge in the backdrop of hardening of interest rates and recession, the company does not find any difficulty in raising necessary finances for the expansion of the company.
"There is no direct impact of the global automotive industry on our investments and expansion plans in India. Unlike other automotive companies, our brands are doing well," said Boneham.
He said that Fiesta and Ikon–Ikon’s grew 400 per cent year over year as the company had put a diesel engine. But admitted that it’s in a small segment with a lot of competition. The company has managed a localisation of about 90 per cent in Ford Ikon and 80 per cent in Fiesta.
"Ford is arranging for funds on its own to make way through this tough time. Our presence in large markets like India and China are a comfort," he added. The company is focussing on emerging markets such as China, India and Thailand to expand operations.
Talking on the small car definition and excise benefits in India he said : The Government has done some tax changes from 24 per cent down to 20 per cent. I still see a big gulf between the small car tax regime and whatever is considered large cars. There should be some kind of rationalization and evening out of the tax regime.