Ford discusses future India plans with Tamil Nadu government

    Market launch of the new Endeavour being closely looked at, along with a made in India affordable EV platform, according to sources.

    Published On Mar 21, 2024 01:21:00 PM

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    Ford Endeavour, Kay Hart

    The Ford Everest on sale in Thailand, Kay Hart (inset).

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    Close on the heels of the Government of India announcing its new electric vehicle policy, US carmaker Ford Motor Company’s president, International Markets Group, Kay Hart, visited the country to assess the next step, hinting at the brand's comeback.

    Sources say that Hart apprised Tamil Nadu state officials this week of the company’s plans regarding the Maraimalai Nagar factory on the outskirts of Chennai. Earlier in the year, the company had put off plans of selling the factory to make a comeback.

    1. Ford Endeavour India launch being looked at closely
    2. Evaluating making EVs at Chennai for India and exports
    3. EVs based on the new affordable platform could be made in India

    Autocar India learns that the company has been evaluating re-entry into the Indian market, and one of the several people in the know say that while the relaunch of the Everest or Endeavour is being looked at, there is a bigger plan in play with electric vehicles.

    Ford considering reopening Chennai factory

    "In order for the company to justify reopening the factory, it needs to get into local production. While the likes of the Everest may be assembled and the Mustang Mach-E could be imported through the completely built route, 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 sister publication Autocar UK had reported in February that CEO Jim Farley revealed that a secret team of Ford engineers have been working on a new platform for affordable electric cars for two years. This could be a potential platform that may resonate well with Indian cost structures and also allow the company to participate in the new EV policy. It could also allow Ford to import the Mustang Mach-E, and other global cars, at an accessible 15 percent duty.

    Speaking at the 2023 annual earnings conference, Farley had said the company is "adjusting our 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, 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 Tamil Nadu government’s invaluable support as the company undertakes a study to explore the future use of the Chennai manufacturing facility. We plan to create 2,500-3,000 additional jobs over the next three years at our headquarters,” added the spokesperson.

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

    With Inputs from Hormazd Sorabjee

    Also see:

    Ford Ranger spied in India along with new Endeavour

    Ford India posts profits of Rs 505 crore in FY2023

    Ford Mustang Mach-E review, test drive

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