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Ford to expand presence in Asia

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Ford Motor Co. announced on Thursday that it will ramp up its presence in the fast-growing Asian and African markets.

The company says that Asia and Africa will account for 70% of Ford's global growth over the next decade.

Ford plans to launch eight new vehicles in India by mid-decade to meet burgeoning demand overseas. Ford said the purpose of the launch is to "rapidly expand its presence in the fast growing market" of India.

Ford's (F, Fortune 500) stock rose more than 1% in morning trading.

This follows the Indian launch of the Ford Figo subcompact in the first quarter, which sold more than 30,000 vehicles in 25 weeks, said the automaker.

The Figo is manufactured in India and has been successful enough to export, said Ford.

"The transaction prices might be lower in India, but the vehicle itself is probably equipped in such a way that they can deliver it at a profit," said Kirk Ludtke, analyst for CRT Capital Group.

The Figo was designed specifically for overseas markets that prefer small vehicles. Exports to South Africa began in May. The automaker plans to export the subcompact to 50 new markets starting in 2011, including Mexico, North Africa and the Middle East.

"It's very important for carmakers to be in emerging markets, because that's where the growth is," said Ludtke. "Over time, as the economy develops and as average incomes increase, the consumers in those areas can afford increasingly expensive vehicles, so carmakers can benefit from a favorable shift and mix." To top of page

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