NEW DELHI: Ford, the automaker, is realigning its strategy in India, having previously made the "mistake" of targeting the wrong audience and failing to adapt vehicles to suit local tastes.

The US multinational entered India in 1995, but only sold around 120,000 cars in the country in 2011, versus the total of 616,000 logged by Hyundai, which started trading locally at a similar time.

Around seven of every ten cars purchased in India are attributable to middle class families buying small and comparatively low-cost vehicles, meaning Ford's larger models have typically been out of reach financially.

Michael Boneham, president of Ford India, told Reuters that it was thus undertaking a complete overhaul of its operating system in India, to more accurately reflect core demands of customers.

"We haven't been a major player because we weren't positioning ourselves in the segment where 70% of all cars are sold," he told Reuters. "We were focused more on issues outside of India and sending cars that were force-feeding the Indian consumer.

"That was a mistake and we've learned from that mistake and now have a very robust plan for the business ... You can expect a heavy focus on small cars from Ford."

Among the models currently being made in Ford's Indian plant at Chengalpattu are the Figo, Ikon and Fusion, while the EcoSport "mini" SUV is soon set to join this list.

While Ford is attempting to use global platforms, designs and engineering in these cars, it will source between 90% and 95% of materials locally, such as using Indian steel, which reduces costs.

"India will be the small-car hub for Asia Pacific and Africa for Ford," Boneham added. "This is a pretty robust test track ... Many developing countries fit the profile of what we experience here."

"The countries that we are exporting to are looking for an entry-level vehicle from Ford and we are able to supply that thanks to the efficiencies we have here."

Ford exported some 30,000 vehicles from India last year, approximately 20% of its local output, and it is seeking to push cars manufactured locally to 50 other countries in 2012.

It also plans to invest $1bn in a new plant in Gujarat, which should be operational by 2014, and to boost the number of models made in India to 12, focusing on small passenger cars.

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff