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Ford opens $1 billion parts and assembly plant in India

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. will mark Thursday the opening of a new parts and assembly plant in India that will allow the Dearborn automaker to double its capacity in that country.

The $1 billion plant in Sanand, Gujarat, will have the initial ability to produce up to 240,000 vehicles per year, as well as 270,000 engines. It will open with a single shift that will build a new Ford Figo Aspire compact car.

“With today’s opening of our plant in Sanand, we have taken our growth commitment to a new high in India,” Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO said in a statement.

Fields was slated to attend the event. Earlier this week, he was in China for the opening of a new assembly plant there.

The Sanand plant spreads over 460 acres and includes stamping, body, paint and assembly operations for vehicle manufacturing, as well as machining and assembly operations for engine manufacturing.

Adrian Price, Ford director, global manufacturing business office, said the plant doubles Ford’s capacity in India to about 450,000 vehicles per year.

“India is a market we believe will continue to grow,” Price said in an interview.

Ford sells a number of vehicles there, including the Ford EcoSport, Figo, Fiesta, Classic and Endeavour, along with the new Figo Aspire, which will be built at the new plant.

The new compact will go on sale later this year.

The car includes technology like a dock that allows the driver to store, mount and charge mobile phones, MP3 players and satellite navigation systems — and to integrate these devices into the car’s entertainment system. For the first time in a compact car in India, the Figo Aspire also comes with side and curtain air bags, Ford said.

Customers have two engine choices: a 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine and the 1.2-liter TiVCT petrol engine.

The plant openings this week underscore Ford’s plan to add capacity and grow in countries around the globe, Price said. Even in areas like Russia, where economic and geopolitical issues have caused some automakers to scale back their presence, Price said Ford has recommitted to its efforts to remain in business there.

“We’re in a growth mode,” Price said. “There probably hasn’t been a time in our history where we’ve expanded the way we are.”

mmartinez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2401

Twitter.com/MikeMartinez_DN