Anurag Mehrotra has resumed his responsibilities as MD of Ford India exactly a month after the American automaker announced its intent to shelve its proposed joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra.
With Mehrotra back at the helm, the company will need to plot its India roadmap carefully in its earlier role as a standalone entity. The decision to call off the JV took industry circles by surprise since this would have yielded the partners tremendous positives from the viewpoint of economies of scale, joint product development, common sourcing of components and so on.
Mehrotra will now need to take forward those projects that are already underway with M&M which include a new SUV (Ford’s version of the XUV 500) as well as sourcing engines. Whether this will mean some kind of a contract manufacturing agreement with the latter remains to be seen even while the JV has effectively been given a burial.
Ford will be hoping that things go according to plan even while it has chosen to go it alone sans M&M. It needs to reckon with some tough competition coming in from the Korean duo of Hyundai and Kia as well as the relentless drive of Maruti Suzuki which has now joined hands with Toyota. Additionally, there will be more pressure from rivals such as Skoda-Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan which are gearing up with their own baskets of SUVs.
Ford has also decided to call it a day in Brazil as part of its new global strategy which means that there is a lot riding on India. Mehrotra and his team will now need to pull out all the stops and ensure that the momentum continues even as the realities of surplus capacity at the Chennai and Sanand facilities need to be factored in.
At present, Ford India has a passenger vehicle market share of 1.71% and a utility vehicle share of 3.22%. In the April-December 2020 period, the company sold a total of 30,380 PVs (-40% YoY) with the bulk of them being UVs comprising 17,419 Ecosports and 4,381 Endeavours.
In the ongoing fiscal, on the export front, Ford India currently is in the third-place position, after Hyundai Motor India and Maruti Suzuki India. Between April-December 2020, Ford India shipped 39,775 units (-62% YoY). The Ecosport SUV, with 35,033 units, remains India’s most exported model.
Ford has been around in India for over two decades now since the time it first entered into a JV with M&M to produce the Escort followed by a parting of ways and a decision to set up a full-fledged manufacturing facility in Chennai. The company has been through a series of upheavals even while having its share of successful products. It has its work cut out now in India at a time when it is rebooting operations worldwide.