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Ford slams brakes on old Ikon version

New Delhi, July 20: Ford India has stopped production of the 1.3 CLXI Endura, an older version of Ikon, now being offered at a discounted price of Rs 4.5 lakh.

Sources said the car-maker, which makes the mid-sized Ikon sedan at its factory in Chennai, has embarked on a stock-clearance drive of around 500 units of the model.

However, the company says the pricing is part of the Ford’s “centenary” offer as its parent, US auto giant Ford, has completed 100 years of production this year.

The Ikon sedan had been designed specifically for the domestic market when it was launched in December 1999.

Auto experts say bargain-hunters lured by this price should have second thoughts about buying this model.

“First of all, the Endura is not powered by the newer Rocam engines and, secondly, it is under-powered compared with the NXT model,” an analyst said.

Ford India, which is 85 per cent owned by the Michigan-based Ford and has invested Rs 1,700 crore in setting up a factory, currently makes the NXT model and sells completely knocked down (CKD) kits of the car to its units in South Africa and Mexico. It imports the luxury Mondeo sedan as a “completely built unit”.

Company officials said the export potential of CKD kits is huge as Ford’s global sales are much larger than India’s entire car market.

“The NXT model is the car which the company hopes to sell well and push up its profits,” said sources. Currently, the NXT model is retailed at Rs 5.5-6.5 lakh.

For the Ikon NXT models are positioned in the country’s mid-size car segment, which accounts for 18 per cent of all new car sales of nearly 6 lakh units a year.

Its competitors include General Motors’ Opel Corsa, Fiat’s Sienna, Hyundai Motor’s Accent and the Esteem model from Maruti Udyog, a joint venture between Suzuki Motors and the government.

Ford India, which lost Rs 1,100 crore in 2001, is also counting on exports and domestic sells to wipe out its cumulative losses over the next five years, the auto analyst said.

During the year, the firm expects sales of about 20,000 cars in the domestic market and a similar number for exports in knocked-down form. It sold 14,970 cars in 2002 and exported 28,915 completely knocked down kits.

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