BANGALORE - The Indian unit of Ford Motor Co. said on Wednesday it expected domestic sales to jump about 50 percent this year as it launched a new model that blends a sedan with an SUV for a growing lifestyle market.
David Friedman, managing director of Ford India Pvt Ltd, told a news conference the company expected to sell 27,000 Ikon sedans in India in 2004, up from 18,500 in the previous year.
"We have seen that the market is quite healthy and we are hoping to see 17 percent growth in the market as a whole," Friedman said, adding Ford's own sales would sharply outpace industry growth.
The new 1.6-liter engine model, named Fusion, is expected to sell 500-1,000 units a month after its launch in about 15 weeks, Ford officials said. The price has not been announced yet.
With this model, which already is running on European roads, Ford aims to create a new market segment in an urban category where consumers look for both style and sturdy outdoor-oriented features.
Ford expects to sell 2,000 units of its Endeavour SUV, which was launched last December, and about 10 units every month of its imported Mondeo sedans, Friedman said.
Ford has so far sold 180,000 Ikons since its Indian launch in 1999.
Friedman said Indian car sales are expected to touch one million in 2007 from an estimated 820,000 in 2004.
The sedan-meets-SUV model will at once challenge a clutch of sedans and SUVs in the evolving Indian market.
Fiat, Hyundai Motor Co. and Maruti Udyog Ltd., majority owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp., are among the main competitors in the mid-sized segement.
The Qualis model made by Japan's Toyota Motor is a key player in the utility vehicle segment, where Ford's new car also will vie with models made by India's Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and Tata Motors.