Ford unveils small car in India “Figo”

US auto giant Ford Motor unveiled its first small car for the Indian market, “Ford Figo”. The Figo, which is colloquial Italian for “cool”, will be manufactured at the company’s Chennai facility and launched in markets by early 2010.

The Chennai unit is undergoing a US$ 500-million upgrade as Ford seeks to make India a global production hub for its small cars.

“The Figo is designed to compete in India’s small car segment, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the market,” said Ford’s global president and chief executive Alan Mulally, who unveiled the car at a function here.

“Our exciting new Ford Figo shows how serious we are about India,” Mulally said. “It reflects our commitment to compete with great products in all segments of this car market. We are confident the Ford Figo will be a product that Indian consumers really want and value.”

Figo leverages Ford’s small-car platform architecture, sharing underlying technology with the Ford Fiesta. The press conference was the first public preview of the exterior design of the new Ford Figo.

Figo is a four-door hatchback, powered by an indigenous diesel and petrol engine. The company, however, declined to give specific details like price and engine capacity. “Ford is reserving further details about the car till its launch in early 2010,” said Mulally.

Figo, which is expected to compete with the Hyundai i20 and the Suzuki Swift, was also showcased to its dealers in Chennai recently. Ford gave a pep talk to dealers whose sales have been under pressure due to competition in the recent past.

Asked about the price range of the Figo, Michael Boneham, Ford India president and managing director, said: “It’s going to be very competitive with the current market leader and will offer a tremendous value for our consumers.”

Maintaining that Ford Figo would be “a big game changer” for his company, Boneham said: “It will transform our brand into a volume player in India.”

Ford is also planning to double its manufacturing capacity at its Chennai facility to 200,000 units per annum by 2010. Ford India’s portfolio includes the Ikon, Fiesta sedan, Fusion car and the Endeavour SUV.

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