MUMBAI – Ford India Ltd.’s first small car, the Figo, will make its domestic debut in dealer showrooms here in March and be exported to South Africa and Asian countries in the coming months.

Ford has done its homework in researching India’s small-car market and drew on its global resources to design and develop the Figo, which is built to standards set by the new Fiesta.

The Figo faces tough competition, entering the Indian market alongside the Chevy Beat, Nissan Micra and March, Honda Jazz and Toyota Etios. It also will face more than a dozen established small-car models from Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., Hyundai Motor India Ltd., Tata Motors Ltd. and others.

The Figo is part of Ford Motor Co.’s “One World” solution for global markets. It will be sold here at an affordable price, as yet unannounced. Sources say it will sticker in the Rs350,000-Rs450,000 range ($7,300-$9,500).

Ford India says the gasoline-powered Figo will be driven by a 1.2L Duratec engine capable of achieving 35-47 mpg (6.7-5.0 L/100 km) on the highway. A 1.4L diesel also will be available.

The 4-door subcompact hatch will be built at Ford’s flexible manufacturing facility near Chennai, which is undergoing a $500 million expansion as part of the U.S. auto maker’s 3-year plan to transform its Indian operations into a global-production hub for engines and small cars and a regional center for small-car engineering.

The facility is expected to about five-six years to reach full capacity and “will be very competitive,” Ford India President and Managing Director Michael Boneham says. The plant sources 60%-70% of its parts locally.

Nearby is a 430,550-sq.-ft. (40,000-sq.-m) facility capable of producing 250,000 engines annually to supply Ford vehicles in Africa, Asia, the U.S. and Europe. The auto maker says the plant incorporates the world’s best engine-making practices.

Boneham says Ford India intends to introduce a series of new products to the market in the next 12-18 months.

Meanwhile, the auto maker has a very aggressive sales and service strategy. It now has 164 dealerships and service stations in 97 towns and cities.