NEW DELHI—US auto giant Ford has started construction on a $1 billion manufacturing and engineering complex in India as it bets on the country to help drive global growth, a company statement said Tuesday.
The new manufacturing facilities in Sanand in the western state of Gujarat will create 5,000 jobs, and will be able initially to produce 240,000 vehicles and 270,000 engines a year, Ford said.
The first vehicles and engines are due to come off the line in 2014.
The complex highlights the automaker’s plan “to aggressively grow the Ford brand in India,” said Ford India president Michael Boneham.
The new manufacturing facilities are targeted at helping Ford reach its goal of increasing worldwide sales by nearly 50 percent by the middle of the decade to eight million vehicles a year.
“We are aggressively expanding in markets around the world that have the most growth potential,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.
Ford has made several moves to support its aggressive expansion plan in India, with the company’s total investment in the country to date now at $2 billion.
Rising incomes and rapidly expanding young populations have turned Asia into a battleground for global car manufacturers such as Ford, GM and Toyota, which hope to grow revenues by steering toward the Asia-Pacific region and Africa.
Ford began selling its cars in 1996 in India and in China one year later, but it only recently stepped up its game as it emerged from recession and restructuring in the United States.
Last year, Ford announced it will bring eight new vehicles to India by mid-decade, the first one being the Fiesta, launched in July.
The Detroit firm still has a long way to go to make the region a significant revenue generator. Ford is a comparative minnow in China and India with only three percent of the markets – the two fastest-growing globally.