The future of the Ford EcoSport and Figo has taken an unexpected twist with the Blue Oval announcing its exit from India with immediate effect.
One of the first ‘foreign’ automakers to set up shop in India in 1994, the automaker’s sudden announcement towards the end of Thursday (9 September) comes after the collapse of its joint venture with Mahindra earlier this year, and confirmed losses of $2-billion (R28.3-billion) over the last decade.
“As part of our Ford+ plan, we are taking difficult but necessary actions to deliver a sustainably profitable business longer-term and allocate our capital to grow and create value in the right areas,” Ford Motor Company CEO and President Jim Farley was quoted in a statement as saying.
According to Autocar India, Dearborn’s Sanand and Maraimalai Nagar plants have been producing a combined 800 000 examples of the Figo, Figo Aspire (Figo Sedan), Freestyle, EcoSport and Endeavour (Everest) per year, well down on the alleged total capacity of four million, with the majority being for export market such as South Africa as opposed to the domestic.
The publication further reports that the closure of the plants, which will start with Sanand in the final quarter of this year and end with the Chennai engine facility in the second quarter of next year, will result in the loss of some 4 000 jobs.
Ford will however retain a presence in India through its so-called Business Solution, which will focus on software development, engineering, technology and R&D in support of its global operations.
The automaker however stated that it will continue to offer models in India, albeit imported, with plans to launch not only the Ranger, but also the Mustang and all-electric Mustang Mach-E at some point.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company Southern Africa, which imports the Figo, Figo Sedan, Freestyle and entry-level 1.5-litre Dragon engine EcoSport from India, has so far not commented pull-out, though an announcement is expected within the coming weeks.