NEW DELHI: Ford, the US automaker, is aiming to diversify its operations in India, where it will soon begin selling a variety of branded accessories and apparel products, as it seeks to drive up awareness levels in the country.

The company's global licensing business is currently worth around $1.5 billion (€1.0bn; £942m) a year, and the Detroit-based firm is aiming to increase its presence in markets such as India, China and South America.

As part of this process, it has formed a partnership with License India, which will be responsible for identifying appropriate manufacturers and retailers for its new range of goods.

It will begin by offering a number of in-car items, and will then extend its offering by launching an apparel range in the first quarter of 2010.

Mark Bentley, Ford's global brand licensing manager said, "we want to extend the brand through the licensing programme."

"It would help us reach more consumers as well as creating brand awareness. The first product would be out in the market in the first half of next year."

Hyundai and Maruti are among the other auto firms which have followed such a route in India, although the entire licensing market in the Asian nation is valued at just 500 crore ($107.1m) rupees at present.

Raghav Gupta, of Technopak Advisors, said "Ford may find this venture quite successful in car accessories, which is largely unbranded. However, for apparel, I am not so sure if the brand would be aspirational."

Data sourced from Mail Today; additional content by Warc staff