Chennai: Ford India on Tuesday announced expansion of its facility here to produce 3.30 lakh engines per annum and said it would bring down the waiting period for diesel powered vehicles to three weeks.
The plant at Maraimalai Nagar near here was earlier producing 2.50 lakh units and the 36 percent increase in capacity is part of a USD 72 million expansion the company had announced last year.
With the expansion, the waiting period for diesel powered cars, which was at present three months, would come down to three weeks, Ford India President and Managing Director Michael Boneham said after unveiling the company's 400,000th engine from the plant which produces two lakh vehicles annually.
Observing that the customer demand for diesel engine powered vehicles has gone up substantially over the last few months due to the high petrol prices, Boneham said the ratio of the cars that were sold was 80 percent diesel engine cars and 20 percent petrol powered vehicles.
"Due to the increasing demand there has been waiting period for two to three months for diesel cars.. Now it will come down to two to three weeks...
"In 2011, we announced we will make an investment of USD 72 million (to expand) by 80,000 units. We are celebrating our 400,000th engines out of our engine facility..." he told reporters here.
According to Boneham, 40 percent of the engines produced are exported to places like Asia Pacific and South African markets. He said the powertrain facility produces 17 variants of the engines including six diesel engines.
On their future plans, he said they are 'well on track' for launching their products as per their plan to have eight new products by 2015. Ford India plans to have eight new products by 2015.
Ford India Powertrain Operations Vice-President Balasundaram Radhakrishnan said the fully integrated manufacturing facility was its unique plant in which 85 CNC machines assemble the engines -- "inhouse".
Observing that the auto-industry had "flattened" in the last four months due to the high interest rates and uncertain market conditions, Boneham said, "we now have a positive momentum. We have been able to meet the customer demand".
"We are hoping for reduction of interest rates by the Reserve Bank to drive the market", he said, adding that they are hoping to increase sales during the "forthcoming festive season".
Quoting SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) figures, he said the total automarket would grow to five million passenger car vehicles by 2015 (from the present 3.6 million) and nine million by 2020. "Even with the slowdown, we are well on track", he said.
Responding to a query, he said they would have an engine facility at their new plant in Gujarat, which would commence production in early 2014. Both the Chennai and Gujarat plants would have a total capacity of 6.10 lakh units per year, he said.
Ford India produces Ford Figo, Fiesta Classic, Fiesta and Ford Endeavour from its plant here.