In line with its commitment to make India an export hub for its passenger cars, Ford has started shipping the new Figo manufactured at its Sanand plant to Europe, where it will be sold as the Ka+.
Ford produces the second-generation Figo hatchback and the new Figo Aspire sedan models at its Sanand plant, which is an integrated manufacturing facility. Between the new Figo and the Aspire, the production capacity for domestic and exports is 240,000 units at Sanand. The Detroit-based carmaker has invested US$ 1 billion in the Sanand plant as part of the automaker’s goal to triple exports from India in the next five years.
According to export data reviewed by Autocar Professional, the carmaker commenced shipments of the Figo hatchback to Germany, Belgium and Spain at the end of July 2016. It can be recalled that this publication had first reported about Ford India's plans to export the Figo and Figo Aspire models to Europe from its Sanand plant, in December 2015.
The Ka+’s prices start from 9,990 euros (Rs 7.46 lakh) in Germany, Spain and Belgium, while the UK prices start at 8,990 pounds sterling (Rs 7.96 lakh), where the official launch is slated in October.
The Ka+ to be sold in Europe is the third Ford model to sport the Ka badge but it is quite different from the first two following a comprehensive change in Ford’s thinking about how to make money from small cars.
The original Ka started life 20 years ago as a sub-B-segment premium city car; the second was another city car, this time produced in Poland in co-operation with Fiat. The latest-generation Ka+ is all Ford, but it achieves economies of scale because it is already a volume-selling model in India and South America.
Unlike the model sold in India, the Ka+ for Europe has been heavily revised, with standard equipment which includes six airbags, Ford’s Sync voice-activated phone and audio system, a smartphone docking station, a speed limiter and hill start assist.
The car is being offered with one five-door hatchback bodystyle, in two trim levels, Style and Zetec. It is powered by the 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine, which is closely related to the 1.25-litre engine found in the Fiesta, but is cheaper to make. The Ti-VCT petrol engine is available with two outputs of 70hp and 85hp, respectively.
Bearing on exports
Ford India which, like Volkswagen India, Nissan Motor India and GM India, exported more cars in FY2015-16 than it sold in the domestic market, sees its Make-In-India export operation as a critical part of its investment in this part of the world.
The company, which sold a total of 79,944 cars in FY2015-16 in the domestic market (+6.36% YoY growth), exported 110,840 cars in the same fiscal, achieving 35.86% YoY growth. The EcoSport has for long been the major export driver but the numbers have slowed down since the compact SUV’s production has been shifted to Romania.
Now with the Ka+, or the new Figo, being manufactured at the Sanand plant, Ford India seems to be putting pedal to the metal on the export front again. In the four-month April-July 2016 period, the carmaker has exported a total of 52,389 units compared to 28,478 units in the April-July 2015 period, to notch 84% YoY growth. Clearly, the Ka+ will be the new instrument of export volume driver for Ford India in the coming months.