Ford to launch Fiesta sedan in India in November


MUMBAI, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. will debut a new midsize car in India in November, aimed at cornering a larger share of the fast-growing segment, its country head said on Wednesday.

The new Fiesta, which will be positioned as a premium midsize car, will be available with petrol and diesel engines and will grow Ford's share of the midsize segment significantly, the managing director and president of Ford India said.

"This model strengthens our portfolio in India and positions us to compete more aggressively," Arvind Mathew told reporters in a teleconference, declining to say how the car will be priced.

A team of Indian engineers worked with product development teams from the UK, Germany and Australia on the project, he said.

Ford, which began operations in India in 1995, assembles the Ikon sedan, Fusion mid-size and Endeavour sports utility at its plant just outside the southern city of Chennai. It also imports the fully built Mondeo saloon.

"In choosing to debut the car in India, we are really reaffirming our commitment to the country," Mathew said.

The Detroit-based car maker's subsidiary sold about 27,000 cars locally last year, and exported nearly 24,000 Ikons to South Africa and Latin America. The company expects its domestic sales and exports this year to be comparable to last year.

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for around 7 percent of the company's global Ford brand sales.

Higher fuel prices and new technologies in diesel engines will lead to a stronger demand for cars fitted with diesel engines, Mathew said. The company expects at least 40 percent of the Fiesta sales to be in the diesel engine category.

"We expect to have our hands more than full meeting the demand of the domestic market for the Fiesta and are not looking to export the car to start with," Mathew said.

The company added a second shift at its plant last year to nearly double capacity to 50,000 units a year. Capacity can be upped to 100,000 units if required, Mathew said, adding that it was not looking to enter the dominant small car segment.

Leader Maruti Udyog , Hyundai Motor Co. and Tata Motors are the lead players in the small car segment, which makes up more than two-thirds of the market.



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