Ford unveils Ikon NXT SXi

By Chennai: | 17 Jul 2003

In an attempt to fill the premium slot in the Ikon family, Ford India has launched a new variant: Ikon NXT SXi.

Terming the model ''sxier'', Ford India managing director and president David Friedman says the new variant is the top of the line model in its family, loaded with several attractive features.

Available in three colours (oyster, panther black and silverstone) and two power-train options (1.6-petrol and 1.8-diesel engines), the new variant comes with 14" alloy wheel, chrome grill, chrome exhaust trim, chrome-deck lid handle and monochromatic sporty front bumper with round-fog lamps.

The interiors sport a luxurious leather and fabric synchronised seats and contemporary truffle premium velour trim and chrome on door handle, gearshift knob and parking brake lever that add style.

The other features are power locks, power steering, power windows, dual exterior mirrors, front-courtesy lamps with theatre dimming and dual reading lamps.

In Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore the petrol version is priced at around Rs 6.45 lakh and the diesel, Rs 7.05 lakh. In Mumbai, the petrol model is priced at around Rs.6.76 lakh and the diesel engine version costs Rs 7.39 lakh.

Ford India vice-president (external affairs) and director (sales operations) Vijay Piparsania says the company has sold 100 Mondeo premium cars till June this year. "And we have exported 14,500 Ikons in completely-knocked down position till June. The company exports to South America, South Africa, Mexico and China. Last year we exported 27,500 units."

The 100-year-old parent, Ford Motor Company, meanwhile, has earned just $3 million pre-tax in its automotive operations in the second quarter ended 30 June 2003, although its pre-tax earnings totalled $718 million overall, including the relatively strong contribution of its financial services operations.

Global rating agency Standard & Poor''s (S&P) had expressed concerns about the adequacy of Ford Motor''s turnaround efforts amid cyclical weakening of demand in the US and Western Europe and a largely secular intensification of price competition.

In light of these industry factors (plus the risks stemming from Ford Motor''s ongoing launch of its new pickup truck and the re-negotiation of its principal labour contract with the United Auto Workers), S&P believes it is still uncertain whether Ford Motor will be able to break even in its automotive operations on a full-year basis in 2003, which has been a key assumption in its BBB/Negative/A-2 rating.

Although pre-tax automotive earnings totalled $659 million in the quarter ended 31 March 2003, a significant loss is expected in the seasonally weak third quarter, S&P says. The rating agency will monitor Ford Motor''s operating and financial performance in the near term to determine whether maintenance of the rating is warranted.

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