CHENNAI, India — H.S. Saluja may have sold Ford vehicles for longer than most dealers in India, but one dream for the veteran former dealer principal remained elusive: catching a glimpse of those vehicles being manufactured from scratch. Ford India has stepped in to make it a reality.
The 63-old founder and former-dealer principal of Saluja Ford in Chandigarh was given an exclusive tour of the Maraimalai Nagar plant near Chennai earlier this month together with his wife Rabinder Kaur.,
Ford management ensured the visitors had a memorable time. The couple was welcomed into the manufacturing facility by Tom Chackalackal, executive director, Manufacturing, and Anand Mishra, general manager, Paint Shop, Ford India.
“We are proud of your contribution to Ford’s amazing growth story in India and are happy to host you at our plant”, said Chackalackal. “I am sure today’s visit will help you understand how we maintain high standards of quality in our products, and the world-class manufacturing practices we follow.”
The tour started at the blanking and stamping facilities, where the functions of sheet metal processing and stamping of parts were explained to the Salujas. This was followed by a walk through the Body Shop and Trim, Chassis and Finish (TCF) line, which gave them an opportunity to witness the entire car manufacturing and assembly process.
After the walkthrough in TCF, the couple were taken for a ride on the Squeak & Rattle track within the plant, in a Ford Endeavour, which gave them an insight into how various Indian road conditions are simulated and how the vehicles are tested and checked. Lastly, a visit to the engine plant gave them an insight into how engines are made.
”We were told this plant produces some of the best engines in the world. That’s really impressive,” said Saluja.
Various manufacturing processes on the floors were explained to the visitors, as were details about how the plant strictly adheres to high quality and environmental standards.
“The ‘Khair Maqdam’ (warm welcome) extended to us was fabulous. We felt not like guests but as if we were meeting members of our family. Indeed, this visit will remain unforgettable for us,” Kaur said.
H.S. Saluja, who started the Saluja Ford dealership in the union territory of Chandigarh in 2003, has now expanded it to three, with new outlets at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Mohali in Punjab. His son, V.S. Saluja, now looks after the business. During Ford India’s national dealer’s meet last year, the father-son duo received the President’s and Customer View Point awards from Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and CEO.
“I must say Ford has a deep understanding of the Indian market and the customer and has the strategy of rolling out the right product at the right time. I have seen it with the success of the Classic and the Figo, and I’m very hopeful that they will repeat the success story with the EcoSport,” Saluja said.
The Salujas were taken through various areas of the Maraimalai Nagar plant.