Ward's Auto World India Correspondent Hormazd Sorabjee recently caught up with Henry Wallace,Motor Co.'s Group Vice President for Asia/Pacific Operations. Here are highlights of that interview:
WAW: What are your strategies for growth in this region?
Wallace: Our aim is to grow the company worldwide. Our overall objective is to be the leading company for automotive products and services. If we are going to achieve that there are two vital issues we need to address. One is how we are going to transform ourselves from a manufacturing-focused company into a consumer-focused company, and that involves a change in mindset. The second is how aggressively we build the business, whether that be geographical growth as in Asia or whether it be growth by leveraging our brand across the world.
WAW: And in India?
Wallace: We have shown we are a leader in superior customer satisfaction by winning the J.D. Power surveys for the first two years with the Escort. But we also need to provide more value. There is no question that customers around the world are more demanding. You can see here in India that prices have come down, that people want more features and choices and certainly (demand) increasing value, and that's (true) everywhere around the world.
WAW: Is the (upcoming) C195 essentially for emerging markets or will it be sold in Europe as well?
Wallace: Yes, the C195 is basically an emerging-markets car. It's not going to be made in Europe because the European small car segment is different. (Europe) is dominated by the Focus and the Escort and then it drops down quickly to the Fiesta hatchback. The C195 is specific to India in terms of being a more traditional style for the Indian market. For example, when we began work on this model, a lot of attention was given to the back seat because the difference in India is that a lot of owners are chauffeur-driven and like to sit at the back.
WAW: Will you be looking atfor input on making cars at the more affordable end of the market?
Wallace: Well, we haven't focused specifically in that area. What we have focused on withis how we can work together on a worldwide basis in terms of sharing the platform. Yes, their expertise is more focused toward that side of the market than larger cars, but we think that the real benefits will come through shared engineering resources, economies of scale and so on, and just general efficiency.
WAW: Will you be looking at integrating the Amazon ('s small car modular program in Brazil) or other modular supply concepts in Maraimalai Nagar (Ford's plant in India) as a means of saving costs?
Wallace: It can be accommodated. However, right now, modularity is still in its infancy and we (still) need the volumes, as well as the supplier base and the supplier capability (in India). So I don't think that we are going to wake up and find that we're into a lot of modules in India. But if that time comes, then we clearly have the capability, because what we are trying to do is to cover the supplier part and take out a lot of the complicated operations in the assembly operation. So, I think we can convert to that as the trend becomes ready for economic introduction.