Ford to hike Figo output, hire more people

Ford India, an arm of Ford Motor Co of the US, on Wednesday said it will increase production of its Figo compact car on the back of robust demand and will hire up to 700 people for its Chennai manufacturing plant to achieve this.

"We do need to ramp up production to cope with the increasing demand for Figo and so we are starting a second shift from the end of June at our Chennai plant. This will increase our production capacity of the small car by 30-40 per cent," Ford India president and managing director Michael Boneham said.

Last month, Ford had a total output of 7,819 units in India. It has an annual production capacity of up to 200,000 units. Ford India's overall March sales more than tripled from the same month a year ago, rising an impressive 203 percent to 9,478 units. The exceptional March performance, which also included strong sales of Ford Ikon, Ford Fiesta, and Ford Endeavour, were nearly triple Ford India's February sales, increasing 194 per cent.

Boneham said the Figo is getting good customer response and the company has received over 10,000 bookings within four weeks of the launch of the car. "We have sold 7,700 units of Figo during the first one month. This is the second biggest first month sale by our company ever in India. We need another two to three months to see how it settles down," he said.

In view of the increased production, he said Ford India will be hiring people to meet manpower requirements. "Within the next three months we will hire another 600-700. Most of them will be diploma holders and fresh pass-outs and will be employed on the shop floor, but there will be some who will be qualified engineers and employed in the middle rung," he said.

Ford India currently has 3,000 employees in India. Asked about wage costs, Boneham said, "I don't see a significant wage inflation for our company this year. But the salary growth will be in double digits, unlike last year when salaries grew very low."

Part of Ford's $500 million investment in India, Figo was designed and engineered with Indian customers in mind ? including months of exhaustive customer clinic research and thorough testing in both simulated and actual road evaluations. It has helped transform the company?s performance, which till the launch of the new Figo had been rather lacklustre.