OTHERS

Ford enters D segment, showcases Mondeo

MUMBAI, NOV. 1. Ford India today unveiled the internationally acclaimed Ford Mondeo in Mumbai. The sedan, which is the company's maiden offering in the D segment is to be launched in India in December this year. The company will be announcing the price of the product only closer to the launch date.

The Ford Mondeo is manufactured in Ford's plant in Genk in Europe which has one of the most modern production facilities and will be imported to India as completely built units (CBUs). Ford Mondeo is among Ford Motor's most successful products and is one of the best selling cars in the European market. In India, Mondeo will compete with the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata which now occupy the D segment.

Ford Mondeo will be launched in India with both petrol and diesel versions - Duratec-HE Petrol and Duratorq Turbo Diesel. The product will be available in three colours - Panther Black, Stardust Silver and Oyster.

The Mondeo launch in India is part of the company's strategy to emerge as a leading player in the Indian automobile industry, offering a range of products. ``The car has won 29 international awards including 11 `Car of the Year' titles and has established itself as truly world class," said Mr. David Friedman, managing director and president, Ford India, adding, ``The Ford Mondeo like the Ford Ikon has been developed taking into consideration the conditions here like the roads and the weather. We have ensured that the product meet specific needs and are looking for good volumes. We have tailored the vehicle for the conditions here. Specific product changes have been in the suspension and the height and the induction system to prevent flooding during monsoon. These are things we did already for the Ikon."

Mr. Randy Shockley, Vice President (Marketing, Sales & Service), said the size of the Indian D segment is a matter of conjecture with estimates varying from 4,500 to 12,000 units. ``However, we think it is around 6,000 units given the current environment." Mr. Shockley further said the Mondeo customer would typically be top level executives, industrialists and businessmen - those hailing from the `upper crust'.

The company has sold around 13,000 Ikons this year and hopes to sell 40,000 units for the full year with a good percentage of this going to exports. The FIL unit in Tamil Nadu has a capacity to produce 90,000 vehicles. According to Mr. Shockley, ``Next year, our sales will certainly be higher. At present, FIL exports Ikons to two countries - Mexico and South Africa - from India."

In its segment, the Ikon has gained 2 per cent market share and is now at 24 per cent. Mr. Shockley said, ``We created a new segment when we introduced the Ikon and we are confident we can do the same here. We have to have a segment for the Ikon buyers to graduate to. People buying the Ikon are very much in the higher end of the C segment and have the capacity to move up to the D segment. We have seen this happen before when new vehicles were launched in the Indian market and this helped expand the Indian market. The current market conditions have not done anything to deter the launch of the product. This is not the first time we are meeting with competition here in India. When we do a programme, we have to go ahead to continue to develop our brand and the market in India. It is not going to be like this all the time. We are only going through a hiccup period."

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