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Ikon assembly in Mexico, South Africa

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, FEB. 22. Mid-sized car Ikon has gone international with its launch in Mexico and South Africa.

The Ikon - rolled out from the Maraimalainagar facility of Ford India Ltd., is sold under the brand name of Fiesta Ikon in Mexico and as Ford Ikon in South Africa.

The Ford plant at Pretoria will assemble the CKDs (completely knocked downs) brought from Ford India plant near Chennai. In Mexico, these will be assembled at Cuautitlan plant of Ford in central part of the country.

Ford India, it may be recalled, has exported 7000 Ikon CKDs between October 2000 and January 2001.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr. Phil Spender, Managing Director of Ford India, indicated that the Indian subsidiary had firm export orders of more than 20000 units for 2001. In revenue term, exports would fetch $35 million during the year, he said.

Mr. Spender said the Ikons sold in these countries were Xzi and CLXi versions bearing an engine capacity of 1.6 litre. Since the Ikon had been built as an international platform, those sold in these countries needed only fine-tuning. For one, the engines were calibrated to suit the superior fuel quality.

For another, suspensions were designed to take care of higher speeds. And, interiors and colours were designed to address the local tastes, Mr. Spender said.

To a question, the Managing Director indicated that Ford India would explore opportunities in West Asia, ASEAN countries and SAARC regions. Nevertheless, he asserted that a strong domestic growth alone could drive exports on a sustained basis.

TN plea

The Tamil Nadu Industries Secretary, Mr. Shakthikantha Das, who was also present at the press conference, said the State Government had written to the Centre seeking an across the board excise duty reduction on cars irrespective of size and engine capacity.

He said the State had also impressed upon the Centre to clear the rail connectivity to Sriperumbudur-Irrungattukottai belt.

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