The new head of Ford in India, Jogindar Singh, is expecting a significant jump in the company’s 3% market share as it rolls out eight new models by mid-decade.
"Never in the history of Ford has it brought out eight models in such a short time," Singh said in New Delhi.
His comments came as Ford chairman Bill Ford said in Bangkok the company wants to target growth in Asia to offset declines in Europe and sluggish growth in North America.
Both Thailand and India will become export hubs for Ford. The plans involve the construction of nine new plants. Ford's second plant in Thailand, costing US$450m opened in Rayong in May. Five factories in China and two in India are currently under construction. These plants will double Ford's annual production capacity in the region to 2.9m vehicles by mid-decade.
More than 90% of Ford's production for the 10 ASEAN countries is in Thailand, where current capacity is 445,000 units per year.
"We have big plans for Thailand and we have big plans for the region," said Bill Ford.
In India those plans involve concentrating on the small car segment which accounts for 70% of the market and something Ford hasn’t done well despite being in India since the mid-1990s.
Ford's earlier strategy "was flawed", outgoing Indian chief Michael Boneham, who is retiring, admitted as he introduced his successor, Singh, to the media.
Ford is spending US$1bn building a second factory in Sanand, in the western state of Gujarat, to accompany its existing facility in Chennai.
Singh said he expects the Sanand plant, which will give Ford the capacity to make an additional 440,000 cars a year and 600,000 engines, to be fully operational by 2014.
"This commitment is a new recognition of the opportunities that lie ahead for Ford in India," he said.