Exclusive: Ford's global executive Kay Hart meets TN state govt officials, discusses future India plans

The company has been evaluating multiple plans for re-entry into the Indian market.

By Ketan Thakkar and Hormazd Sorabjee calendar 21 Mar 2024 Views icon18362 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Exclusive: Ford's global executive Kay Hart meets TN state govt officials, discusses future India plans

US carmaker Ford Motor Company’s head of International Market Group has visited India to reassess its re-entry plans in the country. This comes close on  the heels of the Government of India announcing the new electric vehicle policy, paving the way for the entry of more global automakers in the country.  

Sources say Hart met Tamil Nadu state government officials this week to apprise them of the company’s plans for the Maraimalai Nagar factory on the outskirts of Chennai.

Earlier in the year, the company had shelved plans of selling the factory and decided to hold on to the facility to make a comeback.

Autocar learns the company has been evaluating multiple plans for re-entry into the Indian market. One of the several people in the know of the company’s plans said that while the relaunch of Everest or Endeavour is being very closely looked at, there is a bigger plan in play with electric vehicles. The company is assessing the market launch of the new Ford Endeavour alongside a made in India affordable EV platform.

“In order for the company to justify re-opening the factory, it needs to get into local production. While the likes of Everest may be assembled, the Mustang E could be imported as a completely built import route, and the company is exploring the possibility of localising electric vehicle platforms in India to not only cater to the domestic market but also ship vehicles overseas,” added the person requesting anonymity.

Our team from Autocar UK had reported in February that a secret team of Ford engineers has been working for two years on a new platform for affordable electric cars, company CEO Jim Farley has revealed. 

This could be a potential platform that may resonate well with the Indian cost structures and also allow the company to participate in the new EV policy, paving the way for Ford to import Mustang Mach E and other global projects at an accessible 15% duty.

Speaking at the 2023 earnings annual conference, Farley had said the company is “adjusting capital [investment], switching more focus onto smaller EV products”. He added: “This is important because we made a bet in silence two years ago. We developed a super-talented skunkworks team to create a low-cost EV platform.

“It was a small group, small team, some of the best EV engineers in the world, and it was separate from the Ford mothership. It was a start-up.

“And they've developed a flexible platform that will not only deploy to several types of vehicles but will be a large installed base for software and services that we're now seeing at [Ford] Pro.” 

In an official response, the Ford India spokesperson confirmed the visit of the top officials but declined to comment on products.

“Senior leaders from Ford met and conveyed our sincere appreciation for the TN Govt’s invaluable support as the company undertakes a study to explore the future use of the Chennai manufacturing facility. We also thanked the government for their continued support of our world-class Business Solutions team, also headquartered in Chennai, where we plan to create 2,500-3000 additional jobs over the next three years,” the spokesperson added.

To be sure, while Ford India stopped vehicle production, the Ford Business Centre in the country continues to play a much bigger role in global operations, right from design systems, processes, and software including product development activities. 

Hence, apart from a potential addition of workforce at the factory when it is opened, Ford has been actively hiring engineers to serve the global headquarters. 

 

 

 

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