Ford's decision to cease local manufacturing and gradually wind down its operations in Sanand and Chennai raises a multitude of questions in the minds of existing owners. We try to answer them all.
Big news came from the Ford camp. The American carmaker will stop manufacturing cars in India for local sale with immediate effect. Ford will, however, continue operations at both its facilities for export purposes, for now. Ford has also revealed that it will gradually wind down its Sanand facility by Q4 2021 and the Chennai facility by Q2 2022. This move doesn’t quite come as a surprise, given that Ford has been struggling to sell enough units for sustainable profit and growth. For instance, the Blue Oval was able to sell just over 41,000 units in FY21, and in this financial year so far, the brand has only registered sales of over 15,000 units since 1st April.
After 27 years of operations and some outstanding cars, this move surely leaves us dumbstruck, but in all fairness, it was inevitable. But the bigger question plaguing everyone’s minds is the following one – what does Ford’s exit from India mean for existing customers? Along the sidelines of the official announcement, we had a long chat with Anurag Mehrotra, Managing Director, Ford India, and here’s what we found out.
'Ford has a long and proud history in India. We are committed to taking care of our customers and working closely with employees, unions, dealers, and suppliers to care for those affected by the restructuring,' Mehrotra said in an official statement.
On a call with autoX, Mehrotra further elaborated that Ford would focus on getting five things right for the existing Indian customers. All the work that Ford has done in the past to keep the cost of ownership in check will be sustained. Further, the warranty of existing customers will not be affected. The company will also ensure the accessibility of spares by retaining existing dealers and partners, and by doing that, it will also continue to deliver service to its customers in India. In fact, the existing dealer partners will in future sell Ford offerings, like the Mustang, and possibly even the Bronco and Ranger pick-up, which will be brought into India as CBUs. That said, the number of service outlets in India, especially in smaller towns is likely to reduce in the future.
With Ford planning to gradually wind down its operations, India will no longer be a manufacturing hub for the brand in the future. Ford will continue to produce engines for its existing international orders though. The carmaker will, however, continue its association with Indian suppliers for global products, which could also mean sustainable parts supply for cars like the Endeavour. On that note, Ford will maintain parts depots in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Sanand, and Kolkata. But despite all the assertions by the company representatives, there is no denying that mass-market Ford offerings will, in the future, cease to exist in the Indian automotive space, and at that point, sourcing parts will gradually start getting difficult.