Ford India has flagged off the first shipment of its new compact car Figo to South Africa. The consignment was flagged off by Michael Boneham, President and Managing Director of Ford India, here on Monday. “In addition to being a sales chart topper, Ford Figo is the first small car to be produced and exported by Ford India and today's [Monday's] consignment of 1,200 Figos to South Africa is a new exciting development for us,” Mr. Boneham said. “Given the rising demand worldwide for compact vehicles, we plan to accelerate our export strategy to not only enhance our business growth but also to further embellish India's reputation as a major regional auto manufacturing hub,” he added.

Ford India, he said, would export the 1.4 L petrol and diesel Figo variants to Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa for onward delivery to their network of 123 dealerships by mid-July. “Just as the Figo has taken the Indian market by storm, we are confident that it will have a similar impact in South Africa. We hope to export 5,000 vehicles to the country by the end of the year.” In India, the company sells 1.2L variants due to prevailing government tax structures and legislation requirements.

Since it made its debut in March, Ford Figo has generated over 24,000 purchase orders for Ford India. In June this year, the company sold a total of 7,269 units as compared to 1,982 units in the year-ago period. The success was driven mainly by Figo. The Figo shipment further extends an export relationship between Ford India and Ford in South Africa. In addition to diesel power trains, the Ford India-manufactured Ford Fiesta continues to be exported to South Africa. In June this year, it India also began exporting petrol engines to Thailand.

The company is also gearing up to widen its export base to several new markets as the company sees good potential for Figo cars. The company is expected to announce export of Figo cars to new destinations in the next couple of weeks. “Apart from South Africa, there are some potential markets in the Asia Pacific region,” Mr. Boneham said. With Figo driving sales up hugely, Ford India has also begun second shift operations at its manufacturing unit near here. Going forward, the company expects capacity constraints. With the commencement of second shift operations, the company, however, will be expanding the capacity to about 1.40 lakh units. Ford's Maraimalai Nagar plant can produce about two lakh units with three shifts.