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BW Businessworld

'Value Cars Will Drive Us Ahead'

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The world seems to be heading towards another recession with the European crisis. Do you think innovation comes from making fuel-efficient cars?
Ford's EcoSport is built to be economical in fuel consumption and pricing. The engine is powerful like in a 1.6 litre engine, but is known for its fuel efficiency. The world is heading towards a slowdown, but we don't see a fall in growth. Last year, there were 74 million cars produced globally and this number can grow close to a 100 million in a year or so.

How important is the Indian market for Ford?
India is an important market. We have launched two vehicles; there are six more to go by 2015. As a market, Asia is one of our key growth areas. The Indian manufacturing facility is great. The Figo exported from here is well received abroad. This tells you why India is a key for our exports. The new family of EcoBoost engines will be made here.

The B-platform cars are turning around Ford India. Any thoughts on that?
This is a global car platform and is primarily used in sedans and hatchbacks. All the eight cars that will be launched in India come under the One Ford strategy. These cars have been successful in Brazil, North America, Europe and China — the EcoSport is part of this and has sold well in Brazil. This new SUV, though, is a global launch from India. The B-platform will drive Ford's strategy.

As told to Vishal Krishna

‘Tata Is Great As A Strategic Investor'

How do you match the DNA of luxury and sports cars?
You don't have to match them, they are together anyhow. The DNAs of sports and luxury cars blend nicely. You have seen the Jaguar line up. On one side, we have an extremely fast XK series, available as a coupé or convertible, and on the other hand, we have the fuelefficient XF 2.2 diesel. We got amazing reviews for both.

How much is the R&D (research and development) spending as a share of total sales?
Not much of the sales goes into our R&D. However, we will be developing 14 products and extensions in the next five years, and will be putting in a significant investment in R&D. We spent £1.5 billion last year and plan to spend a two-digit figure this time.

Ralf Speth, Global CEO, Jaguar Land Rover

What would be your strategy for India in 2012? Will you be looking at manufacturing cars here?
We are growing in India by 164 per cent and you may say it's a dramatic jump. We are growing in relative terms, but not in absolute terms. We have 13 dealerships now, and will be adding 11 more in 2012. There is an opportunity to manufacture from here and we are investigating the possibilities, but we can't say when.

How much is Ratan Tata's involvement in the strategic decision making of JLR?
The involvement is little. We are a small company in the group. As a strategic investor, Tata is great. He has given us a lot of freedom and opportunity to grow.

As told to Malabika Sarkar & Abhinav Sharma

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 16-01-2012)