Mumbai: US automobile giant Ford Motor Company has decided to invest another Rs 4,000 to Rs 5000 crore in an R&D centre in Chennai, after investing a billion dollars in a second plant in Sanand, Gujarat, people familiar with the development said.
This development comes 10 months after its Global CEO Mark Fields promised Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he will do his bit for the government’s Make in India campaign.
“There’s a tremendous engineering talent here, and we want to tap into that and grow our product development capability here methodically over a period of time,” Fields said.
A Ford India spokesperson said, as for future projects and investment, we have nothing to announce.
With this fresh investment, Ford India will be increasing its investment in the country by almost 50% of its cumulative investment so far.
People close to the company said the development of new B500 project, which will spawn a new mid-size segment sedan to take on the Honda City somewhere around 2018, will be the first project on which Indian R&D base will play an important design, development and engineering role. The B500 project may eventually also spawn out an MPV in the future.
The new Indian product development centre will be one of the largest R&D bases in the Asia-Pacific region for the maker of the iconic Mustang and Lincoln cars and it is going to be linked to the Ford’s Global Product Development Ecosystem, wherein engineers in India will offer key inputs for products not only meant for India but for global markets too.
Experts said the local product development will drive localisation further and help the company reduce cost by reducing the dependency of imports.
With a huge talent pool of skilled engineering workforce, India can become an important development hub for Ford India.
Its rivals such as Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor India, Renault Nissan already have sizeable development hubs, not only serving the local markets, but also contributing to the global markets as well.
Post the establishment of the local R&D base, the company’s Ford Technology Services India and Ford Global Business Service operation, which has over 10,000 workforce, will merge into a common organisation.