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Figo success a feather in Ford Oz cap

Sell-out success: Ford's Figo has helped the Blue Oval raise August sales in India by 220 per cent.

Ford Australia praised as the engineering muscle behind successful Indian light car

Ford logo4 Oct 2010

A FAR stronger than anticipated reception for the Figo this year has shone a fresh light on the Australian-led engineering and design team’s capabilities that helped to develop the Indian-built light car.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s Asia Pacific and Africa president, told GoAuto at the Paris motor show press day on September 30 that the Ford Australia team had earned its stripes as a key design and engineering force in the Ford world with models such as the Figo, as well as the T6 Ranger to be released at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in the middle of this month.

“The Figo has been a phenomenal success in India, and who would have thought that engineers from India and engineers from Australia would have designed a vehicle that breaks through and becomes the story of 2010 in India? That’s fascinating,” he said.

“We have a lot of capability between Broadmeadows and Geelong. And we have been using that capability to support all the work we have going on in Asia Pacific and Africa.”

Launched in India last March, the Figo has continually outstripped initial forecasts, with orders exceeding 30,000 to the end of August, and bettering Ford’s entire 2009 production output in that country.

Figo has also helped triple Ford sales in August, to record a 220 per cent increase over the same month in 2009.

27 center imageMr Hinrichs added that the success of the Indian-built light car – a development of the previous-generation B256/WP-WQ Fiesta led by Ford Australia – has put the Broadmeadows team in the forefront of all new-vehicle development, whether it be as leaders in, or support to, future product engineering and design.

“It is not just the T6/Ranger and the Figo before it,” he said.

“It is also many other new programs that we are working on and we have capabilities there (in Australia).

“It is great that we have input from Australia, India, China, Thailand and other markets, into the product development system, and we’re getting talent and also resources from all around our region – but certainly especially from Australia as well.”

Meanwhile, while he would not confirm details of the next Falcon, Mr Hinrichs was upbeat about Ford Australia’s chances of designing and engineering it at Broadmeadows, with stronger sales in 2010 helping the large car’s cause.

Falcon sales are up by about 4.5 per cent this year – more than double the growth of the large-car segment in Australia in 2010.

“We are very pleased with the performance of the Falcon this year in the market place, and the Australian product development team in Broadmeadows have been working really hard keeping the product fresh,” he said.

“So we’re very excited about that … and the Falcon, Utility and Territory are very important products for our business there.

“We have exciting plans for all the markets including Australia … and our presence in Australia is very important to us, and it’s a good business for us.

“We’re proud of our heritage there. And we have lots of capability there. And we will take advantage of that.

“And we also have to continue to evolve as a company to see where consumers, and where governments and where the economies are going.”

Ford’s global chief financial officer Lewis Booth best summed up Broadmeadows’ new-found standing within the Ford world to GoAuto in Paris: “Don’t worry what we say (about Ford Australia) just watch what we utilise.

“You know what I think about the Australian team: they’re good people doing a good job. They are part of our global asset and they will be used accordingly.”

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