Page 39 - IACC Newsletter March-April 2014 Issue 03

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Huge demand for cars will turn around Ford's fortunes in India: President Nigel
Harris
About a decade and half since and after holding various positions across the globe, Harris is expected to play a very importa nt role
for the company.
For Nigel Harris, his father has always been a great role model. But when he had the option of taking over the family's
dairy farm in New Zealand from his father, he looked elsewhere. His love for cars landed Harris at Ford Motor. Harris
joined the New Zealand unit of the US auto maker in 1985 as a fleet sales analyst.
"When I first joined Ford, I toldmy father that one day I will be theMD of Ford New Zealand, and he laughed it off," Harris,
president of Ford's India operations since February this year, recalled at a recent interview. He went on to become the
managing director of Ford New Zealand in the late 1990s. About a decade and half since and after holding various
positions across Europe, Africa and the AsiaPacific, Harris is expected to play a very important role for the Detroit-based
company. Ford is looking at India to be a driver of its emerging market push. It also wants to see the Indian unit making a
profit, something that eluded the company in its 17 years of operations here.
Not new to the Indian market, Harris was one of the key contributors for the Ikon sedan developed for the local market
and has travelled to the country 7-8 times in late 90s to get an insight into the Indian consumers. Expectations are high,
but Harris seems to be enjoying it. "I reckon, if you love what you do, if your hobby is your work, then you never have to
work a day in your life. That is what it has been like for the last 29 years."
The company had one-off successes withmodels such as the Ikon, Figo and EcoSport, but still isn't a mainstreamcarmaker
in India in terms of volume and profitability. It is often called a "one -product company" -most of its sales at any given point
come from one model, and now it is the EcoSport compact SUV. "The criticism leveled on us is understandable, we know
why it is the case," Harris said. "It does change, because of the One Ford plan. I think we will change the perception, with
the evidence in the future."
CHANGE IN STRATEGY
Under the One Ford plan, productsmanufactured in India are now alignedwith global lifecycle and development costs are
expected to be shared by units in markets to where the products are exported. That is expected to make per -unit costs
lower, as the company will be able to utilize capacity better. The Ikon or Figo were developed specially for India, which
meant costs were high and volumes weren't enough to recover the cost.
The company is investing $1 billion in its new Sanand plant in Gujarat and will be rolling out at least three to four cars in
the next couple of years. After hitting the sweet spot with the EcoSport, there is an entry level sedan lined up for launch,
as well as a small car that is likely to replace the Figo hatchback and an all -newEndeavour SUV. Other likelymodels include
a competitor on the B562 platform to Honda Cars India's City mid-size sedan and a seven-seat multipurpose vehicle.