Ford will be keeping car haulers in Asia and Africa busy with their new Indian-built Figo; it’s a small compact with a 1.2 liter gas engine designed to compete in the developing-world’s small car markets. The Figo is a variant of the Fiesta, which has an option for a 1.4 liter diesel engine as well as the gas engine, and is designed to compete for the growing Indian small car market.
The first Figo rolled off the assembly line near Chennai on Friday; the location right near India’s second-largest port will be advantageous for exporting the cars in the future and even transporting them within India; interstate vehicle transport can be problematic in India with their lack of road and rail infrastructure for car transport; sending cars via sea to cities like Mumbai might be easier than going overland. A brief strike at the port of Chennai just ended, as official streamlined the process for trucks hauling products for export, pacifying striking truckers; that’s perfect timing for Ford.
Ford will start exporting Figos this summer, with South Africa an initial target market. However, a growing Indian car market with a taste for smaller cars will be the major target for Ford. The Figo will go mano-a-mano with the Tata Nano on its home turf.
Whether the Figo makes its way to the US remains to be seen; some foreign-based cars have specs that don’t quite meet US safety and emission standards, but if Ford is truly going for a “one Ford” policy, expect to see the Figo on a car transporter near you later in the decade.