NEW DELHI: Ford, the US automaker, is heightening its focus on India both in a bid to drive up domestic sales and as an innovation hub for Asia, Africa and beyond.

The multinational has announced the goal of unveiling eight new models in India by 2015, to rapidly expand its stable in the country.

"We have big plans for India and for this region," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, in a speech given to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

"This is part of our 'better plan' to bring more and more vehicles from our vast global portfolio to India and other markets in Asia Pacific and Africa."

A key element defining Ford's current approach is simplifying the manufacturing process, as it seeks to ensure 70% of cars sold under its flagship marquee will be made from 15 "core platforms" by 2012.

"By bringing suppliers into the development process earlier we can ultimately generate more profit for the supply chain," said Hinrichs.

"This leads to lower development cost and greater economies of scale for our suppliers, and ultimately a higher quality and more economical vehicle for consumers."

However, such a strategy will be accompanied by a targeted response on the ground, in order to serve the needs of buyers in individual nations.

"To succeed in a place as unique and fascinating as India, we have learned to listen more closely to our customers, dealers and suppliers," Hinrich argued.

"Our 'One Ford' plan says to adapt and to localise. It has made us a better company here in India and around the world."

A practical demonstration of this ethos is the Ford Figo, which is manufactured in India and will be exported to 50 markets, including North America, the Middle East and Mexico.

The "subcompact" car was launched in the first quarter of 2010, selling 30,000 units in India in 25 weeks, and has since been made available in South Africa.

"Although the vast majority of vehicles we produce in India will help satisfy growing local demand, we also continue to pursue export opportunities," said Michael Boneham, president and managing director, Ford India.

Ford believes Asia Pacific and Africa should deliver approximately 70% of its global growth in the next decade, with total industry sales in these regions rising from 16m units in 2009 to 35m units in 2018.

Data sourced from Ford India; additional content by Warc staff