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Ford Motor To Cease Operations In India: What Happens Next?

Ford Motor To Cease Operations in India: What Happens Next?

“To continue investing … we needed to show a path for a reasonable return on investment,” Ford India head Anurag Mehrotra told reporters last week. “Unfortunately, we are not able to do that,” Anurag concludes. 


Ford India Private Limited announced on 9 September 2021, their intent to shut down their two manufacturing plants located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and Sanand, Gujarat. Their decision to move out of the Indian market comes with a heavy heart. After sinking $2.5 billion in India since entry and burning another $2 billion over the past decade alone, Ford decided not to invest more. 

Ford Motors’ venture into India was not easy, especially being one of the first multinational automobile companies entering into the Indian market and their journey was neither smooth with tough competition from companies such as Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. Surprisingly, they were not the only global automobile corporations that have found it difficult to sustain India’s automobile market which is the fourth largest in the world based upon production statistics of 2017. In fact, Ford’s American rival General Motors (GM) and the American motorcycle company Harley-Davidson are also on the list of global companies that have ceased manufacturing in India.

Factors Contributing To Ford India’s Closure

Some of the key factors were:

  • Failure to adapt to the Indian Consumers’ Portfolio

Indian consumers prefer small, cheap, fuel-efficient cars that could bump over uneven roads without needing expensive repairs. In India, 95% of cars are priced below $20,000.”The struggle for many global brands has always been meeting India’s price point because they brought global products that were developed for mature markets at a high-cost structure,” commented analyst Ammar Master at LMC Automotive. 

An automobile industry expert from India who prefers annonymity,  pointed out that Ford did not fully customize its car platforms. India is a right-hand drive market whereas in the US it is left-hand drive.  The expert adds, “Some of the Ford India’s car models, the owner-driver, had to get down, go around the vehicle, open the left side door to unlock the boot, certainly a tedious affair,” the expert explained. 

  • Difficult Market for Global Brands

Some of Ford’s missteps can be traced to when it drove into India in the mid-1990s. While Maruti Suzuki India Ltd and Hyundai Motor India Ltd cashed in on launching new models at different price points, Ford and General Motors failed to do so as they didn’t have a small car in their global portfolio. Ford mentioned that it had considered bringing more models to India but determined it could not do so profitably. 

In addition, an automobile industry expert from India pointed out that Ford did not fully customize its car platforms. India is a right-hand drive market whereas in the US it is a left-hand drive. As such, “Some of the Ford India’s car models, the owner-driver, had to get down, go around the vehicle, open the left side door to unlock the boot, certainly a tedious affair,” the expert explained. 

Hence, as a whole, “U.S. manufacturers with large truck DNAs struggled to create a good and profitable small vehicle. Nobody got the product quite right and losses piled up,” said Ravi Bhati, President of JATO Dynamics Ltd.

While India’s auto market has been described as tough to crack, Hyundai subsidiary Kia Motors and China’s MG Motor are among the exceptions, having made significant inroads over the last couple of years.

  • Demand Has Been Muted

Auto sales have registered a combined annual growth rate of just 1.5 per cent in India over the past five years, upsetting the plans of MNCs who have heavily invested in the Indian markets. In conjunction with the Indian market’s downturn, the automobile industry demand for combustion vehicles, in general, is declining due to the transition towards an all-electric future. 

“The industry has been witnessing comparatively slower growth in the last 18 months… There have been a lot of statements about the importance of the automobile industry, but in terms of concrete action, which would reverse the decline, I haven’t seen any action on the ground. I don’t think the car industry would revive either with ICEs, or with the CNG, biofuels or EVs unless we address the question of affordability of cars for the consumers,” Maruti Suzuki chairman R C Bhargava had said.

Therefore, a combination of factors snowballed over 25 years with the pandemic last year, exacerbating the economic losses to a point of no return.

Ford considered several options in India, including partnerships, platform sharing and contract manufacturing with other carmakers before deciding to shut down factories in India.

What Is Next?

  1. For Ford India Employees

“The company has to export about 30,000 cars by the end of this year. So, the management has cajoled the workers to restart production while holding talks relating to the plant closure,” another worker told IANS preferring anonymity.

According to Ford India, about 4,000 employees are expected to be affected by its decision. The union officials are also studying the settlement packages offered by other companies and to avoid other pitfalls so that they can secure a good compensation package if they are not able to protect their jobs.

       2.  For India and automobile industry competitors

The retreat by Ford is a further blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India program, which encourages companies to manufacture locally. Tesla Inc. has urged Modi’s administration to allow it to import cars more cheaply before it commits to setting up a factory in the country.

According to Vahishta Unwalla, Lead Analyst-Industry Research Team, Care Ratings Ltd, companies in the utility vehicle space like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors India Pvt Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd shall benefit by the exit of Ford India. She adds that since Ford India is not a major player in any car segment,  its absence will not result in any substantial windfall for other players.

More updates on Ford can be found https://corporate.ford.com/

References of Content:

[1] What the exit of Ford Motor Company from India tells us by MG Arun, India Today
[2]
Ford Motor Company bails on India, will shut car factories there    by Ragini Saxena and Keith Naughton (Bloomberg)
[3] Ford motor to cease local production in india shut down both plants report by Pranav Mukul
[4] What went wrong with Ford in India and who will benefit from its exit? by IANS, Chennai


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What Will Move Us Next?IAA Mobility 2021 Highlights

What Will Move Us Next?IAA Mobility 2021 Highlights

With 2021 coming to a close and some countries slowly easing restrictions within their country, the post-pandemic world has certainly been enlightened to how mobility affects us significantly.

By Ashwini Balan, Eastern Trade Media


Mobility can be labelled as an umbrella term that encapsulates a wide range of functions either as enabling mobility or in itself mobility. Especially in our digital world, the possibility is simply limitless from our standard automobiles to digital solutions and urban air mobility. With the global vision of an all-electric future, the organisers of IAA Mobility 2021, have brought together a phenomenal trade show that has been a trending topic among trade leaders, international corporations and fans of the latest automotive innovations. 

400,000 participants from 95 countries – 744 exhibitors and 936 speakers from 32 countries – 67 percent of visitors under the age of 40 – international media reach of 137 billion – survey shows very positive exhibitor and visitor response. All these statistics makes it further evident that the premiere of IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich, from the 7th to 12th September, was a roaring success and is now the largest mobility event in the world.

“We took a courageous step and were rewarded by the visitors,” said Hildegard Müller, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), which organized the first IAA Mobility this year jointly with Messe München.

“What will move us next?” is the motto of this year’s show with three key pillars being mobility of the future, commitment to constant change, and a platform for all those shaping the future. Among the massive list of exhibits, some were well-known OEMs such as Renault, Hyundai, Ford, BMW, MINI, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Huawei, Microsoft, IBM, Bosch, Magna, Schaeffler, Continental, Michelin, and the bicycle brands Canyon, Specialized, Riese & Müller, Rose, Kettler and many more.

I have narrowed some interesting products and innovations that might be of interest to you. 

Products: 176 listed

Automobiles Related

Innovations: 340 listed

“We are now evaluating the event and will further develop our strategy so that we can welcome an even broader spectrum of exhibitors at the next IAA MOBILITY, and to continue the dialog on the future of mobility.,” Hildegard Müller said. 

Regardless of the event format in Munich, the IAA Mobility will continue operating its website www.iaa.de, making it a worldwide digital platform for the transformation of mobility on the path to climate neutrality, for innovations around cars, bikes, scooters, car and ride sharing, digitization and urban development.

References of the content:
1. Original Article Source: Press Release, IAA Mobility 2021 Website

2. The best photos of the IAA MOBILITY 2021 are available here

3. The film about the IAA MOBILTY 2021 is available here

4. The public-domain photo. and film material is available here

5. The complete list of exhibitors is available here

6. The complete list of partners is available here

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BMW And Ford Lead $130 Million Investment In Start-Up For Solid-State Batteries

BMW And Ford Lead $130 million Investment In Start-Up For Solid-State Batteries

Solid Power, an industry-leading producer of all solid-state batteries for electric vehicles has announced a $130 million Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies. Ford and the BMW Group have also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future electric vehicles.

The investment positions Solid Power to produce full-scale automotive batteries, increase associated material output and expand in-house production capabilities for future vehicle integration. The BMW Group and Ford aim to utilise Solid Power’s low-cost, high-energy all solid-state battery technology in forthcoming electric vehicles.

“BMW and Ford now share leading positions in the race for all solid-state battery-powered electric vehicles,” said Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power. “Solid Power now plans to begin producing automotive-scale batteries on the company’s pilot production line in early 2022 as a result of our partners’ continued commitment to Solid Power’s commercialisation efforts.”

Solid Power has demonstrated its ability to produce and scale next-generation all solid-state batteries that are designed to power longer range, lower cost and safer electric vehicles using existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing infrastructure.

Solid Power’s leadership in all solid-state battery development and manufacturing has been confirmed with the delivery of hundreds of production line-produced battery cells that were validated by Ford and the BMW Group late last year, formalising Solid Power’s commercialisation plans with its two long-standing automotive partners.

“Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that’s why we’re investing directly,” said Ted Miller, Ford’s manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. “By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we’ll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes.”

“Being a leader in advanced battery technology is of the utmost importance for BMW. The development of all solid-state batteries is one of the most promising and important steps towards more efficient, sustainable, and safer electric vehicles. We now have taken our next step on this path with Solid Power,” said Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG, Development.

Solid Power is currently producing 20 ampere hour (Ah) multi-layer all solid-state batteries on the company’s continuous roll-to-roll production line, which exclusively utilises industry standard lithium-ion production processes and equipment.

Both Ford and the BMW Group will receive full-scale 100 Ah cells for automotive qualification testing and vehicle integration beginning in 2022. Solid Power’s all solid-state platform technology allows for the production of unique cell designs expected to meet performance requirements for each automotive partner. Solid Power’s truly all-solid cell designs achieve higher energy densities, are safer and are expected to cost less than today’s best-performing lithium-ion battery cells.

 

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Leading A Sustainable Revolution: Ford And HP Collaborate To Transform 3D Waste Into Auto Parts

Leading A Sustainable Revolution: Ford And HP Collaborate To Transform 3D Waste Into Auto Parts

Ford is teaming up with HP to innovatively reuse spent 3D printed powders and parts, closing the loop and turning them into injection molded vehicle parts – an industry first.

Sustainability is a priority for both iconic companies, which through joint exploration led to this unlikely, earth-friendly solution. The resulting injection molded parts are better for the environment with no compromise in the durability and quality standards Ford and its customers demand.

The recycled materials are being used to manufacture injection-molded fuel-line clips installed first on Super Duty F-250 trucks. The parts have better chemical and moisture resistance than conventional versions, are seven percent lighter and cost 10 percent less. The Ford research team has identified 10 other fuel-line clips on existing vehicles that could benefit from this innovative use of material and are migrating it to future models.

“Finding new ways to work with sustainable materials, reducing waste and leading the development of the circular economy are passions at Ford,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford technical fellow, Sustainability. “Many companies are finding great uses for 3D printing technologies, but, together with HP, we’re the first to find a high-value application for waste powder that likely would have gone to landfill, transforming it into functional and durable auto parts.”

HP 3D printers are already designed for high efficiency, with systems and structures to minimise the excess material they generate and reuse a greater percentage of the materials put into them. Working with Ford, which uses HP’s 3D printing technology at the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, the team created this solution that produces zero waste.

“You get more sustainable manufacturing processes with 3D, but we are always striving to do more, driving our industry forward to find new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle powders and parts,” said Ellen Jackowski, chief sustainability and social impact officer, HP. “Our collaboration with Ford extends the environmental benefits of 3D printing even further, showcasing how we are bringing entirely different industries together to make better use of spent manufacturing materials, enabling a new circular economy.”

For its part, Ford is developing new applications and utilising a multitude of different processes and materials for 3D printing, including filaments, sand, powders and liquid vat polymerisation. The company already employs 3D printing for a variety of low-volume commercial vehicle parts, as well as fixtures used by assembly line workers use, saving production time and enhancing quality.

 

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ExOne And Ford Develops Automotive Industry-First Binder Jet Aluminum 3D Printing And High-Density Sintering

ExOne And Ford Develops Automotive Industry-First Binder Jet Aluminum 3D Printing And High-Density Sintering

In a project co-funded by Ford Motor Company and the ExOne Company, a team of engineers, material scientists, and manufacturing experts has developed a patent-pending process for rapid and reliable binder jet 3D printing and sintering of aluminum that delivers properties comparable to die casting.

Delivering a commercially viable achievement in this area has evaded researchers for more than a decade. The new process is expected to increase Ford’s efficiency by allowing the company to affordably produce complex parts uniquely designed for additive manufacturing, which enables size and weight reductions, part consolidation, and performance improvements.

“This is a breakthrough in making 3D printed and sintered parts for the auto industry,” said Harold Sears, Ford technical leader for additive manufacturing.

“While the 3D-printing process is very different than stamping body panels, we understand the behavior of aluminum better today, as well as its value in light-weighting vehicles. High-speed aluminum 3D printing paves the way for other opportunities that we’re just now starting to take a look at because of the ability to do complex parts with aluminum that previously weren’t possible. It’s really opening doors for other opportunities.”

“Developing a fast, affordable, and easy way to 3D print aluminum with traditional material properties is a critical step toward light-weighting more products and delivering a more sustainable future,” said John Hartner, ExOne CEO.

The new innovation came about through the process of binder jetting, widely regarded as the fastest method of metal 3D printing for high-volume output. It uses a digital file to quickly inkjet a binder into a bed of powder particles such as metal, sand, or ceramic to create a solid part, one thin layer at a time. When printing metals, the final bound metal part must be sintered in a furnace to fuse the particles together into a solid object. The heating process reinforces the strength and integrity of the metal, and while the process for sintering stainless steel is well understood, achieving high densities greater than 99 percent is an industry breakthrough for aluminum.

 

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Ford & Toyota—First Automakers To Suspend Production In Vietnam Due To Covid19

Ford & Toyota—First Automakers To Suspend Production In Vietnam Due To Covid19

In response to the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid19), Ford Motor Company has announced that the company will be temporarily suspending vehicle and engine production at its International Markets Group (IMG) manufacturing sites which includes Vietnam.

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In January 2020, Ford announced an expansion plan for its plant in Vietnam to increase annual production capacity from the current 14,000 to 40,000 vehicles, with an investment of US$82 million.

However, Ford Vietnam’s Hai Duong assembly plant has now been scheduled to stop operations by March 26—the first to do so in the country. This will continue for several weeks depending on the pandemic situation, national restrictions, supplier constraints and dealer stock requirements.

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Similarly, Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) has also temporarily halted vehicle production starting March 30—the second in Vietnam. According to TMV, the outbreak has impacted all aspects, from economy to society, including the automobile industry and resumption of production will be dependant on the outbreak situation, market demand, supply chain situation, the dealers’ stock and Government’s restriction regulation.

“We are taking necessary actions to protect their safety and health as well as minimising any impact on our company’s operation. While closely monitoring the situation, we will consider and make decisions guided by the direction from the Government,” said a representative from TMV.

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According to Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA), sales of members decreased 26 percent to 31,908 in end of February due to the impact of Covid19. In particular, sales of passenger and commercial vehicles dipped 30 and 12 percent respectively due to changing consumer behaviour in light of the pandemic.

 

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Volkswagen To Utilise 3D Printing For Future Manufacturing

Volkswagen To Utilise 3D Printing For Future Manufacturing

GERMANY – Volkswagen (VW) has announced that it will be the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to utilise HP Metal Jet for mass global production of its vehicles. A method that the company claims is not only simpler and quicker but also 50 times more productive than other existing methods.

Considering that a typical VW car contains approximately 6,000 to 8,000 parts, the HP Metal Jet would allow for greater personalisation and production of individual parts. A point that has been reinforced by Dr. Martin Goede, VW’s head of technology planning and development, who said, “At the same time, complexity is increasing with the number of new models. That’s why we are relying on state-of-the-art technologies to ensure a smooth and fast production. 3D printing plays a particularly important role in manufacturing of individual parts.”

Moving forward, VW would be working with GKN Powder Metallurgy in the next two to three years to gear this technology towards the mass production of automotive parts for vehicle assembly. A trend that several other key car makers, such as Ford, would be following as they continue to test the viability of 3D printing technologies in creating hyper personalised vehicles at a commercial scale.

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