Should Ford assemble the Mustang in India?

Bertrand D'souza Published: July 12, 2016, 01:03 PM IST

Ford have just introduced the iconic Mustang in India, one of the highest selling sports cars in the world. The Ford Mustang has beaten established sports cars from the big three German manufacturers as well as American counterparts. It has reached out to an audience the likes of which have never been accounted for since the Mustang was first born in 1962.

Ford Mustang (1)

India isn't a stranger to the Ford Mustang, its been sold in India decades ago. Read our story here on India's fascinating association with the Mustang. But in this decade it looks more likely that the Ford Mustang may not just be sold here in India, the company may very well build the car here.

Presently the Ford Mustang is manufactured at the Flat Rock assembly plant in Michigan. It is here that both right and left hand drive versions are built for global markets. Demand however has been so high the plant cannot make enough in good time. The supply of the Mustang is stretched out so thin, India has been allotted only 200 in its first run. At the tempting price point it will be available here in India, I see those numbers being exhausted quickly. And then what happens.

2016 Ford Mustang Showcase Image

The same is true all over south east Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East and Africa. Demand, both existing and potential, for the Mustang is growing in the markets. As the pony car grows more popular, accumulates more accolades and sees a growing customer base, Flat Rock is unable to keep the supply chain running smoothly.

Here is where India could step in. The new plant at Sanand is presently the most advanced Ford facility in the world. Every subsequent plant Ford sets up is the most advanced and Sanand in Gujarat just happens to be the freshest until, a new one comes up in Mexico.

Production at Sanand currently is below expectations, because the Figo and Aspire consumption in the domestic market hasn't exactly gone north as expected. So a large chunk of the 240,000 installed capacity is diverted towards exports to optimise efficiencies and yet there is capacity. India is also presently a central production hub for Ford in the Asia Pacific region. It supplies the Figo, EcoSport, Aspire, Fiesta, Classic and their iterations in both right and left hand drive trims to various parts of Asia and even Europe, 36 nations in all.

Ford Sanand has already shown that it has the capability to produce world class products. And insiders reveal that Ford India is keenly exploring the thought of building the Mustang at the Sanand facility. Kits could very easily be assembled here and then shipped to various markets in the Asia Pacific region as well as Africa, probably even Europe?

2016 Ford Mustang (12)

Building the Mustang in India would definitely support the demand in several countries around the hub. Not to mention it also perfectly goes in hand with our Prime Minister's 'Make In India' program. Even the Germans are exploring the possibilities of putting together CKD kits of some of their sports cars here in India before shipping them out to markets around. Its not just economical, but given the high quality standards, retains the character and promise of the brands involved in this venture. Ford India though isn't confirming or trashing the idea altogether. Ideally going the CKD route makes sense only if you manage to sell around 40,000 units a year. Then again, it will also depend vastly on the free trade agreement between India-Australia and India-China, the two countries where demand for the pony car is much higher. Ford could also bring in the EcoBoost as well as the 4.4-litre V8 engined Mustang at a later stage through the CKD route and price them very competitively.

It makes perfect sense to us, hopefully Ford India will also be able to push the agenda through.

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