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(July 3, 2001) NEW DELHI -- Indian consumers have never had it so good when it came to upmarket cars. Just as Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata are gearing up to launch, Ford India has revealed its Ford Mondeo will be available in India by year-end.

Ford India, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co., proposes to launch the car in both petrol and diesel versions. Ford Mondeo, which was re-designed in September 2000, will be targeted at "progressive, spirited and refined consumers."

Though General Motors Corp. is also mulling the idea of introducing the Vectra and Toyota Motor Co. is contemplating the launch of the Toyota Corolla, Ford India Managing Director Philip G. Spendor said the Honda Accord will be the "real competitor."

In a low-volume, upper-class segment with expected sales of 4,000 to 5,000 units annually, the Mondeo is expected to be priced between $30,000 and $34,000. Honda Accord, from Japan's Honda Motor Co., and Sonata, from Korea's Hyundai Motors, are expected to be priced in the same range.

"We have the benefit to see how the competition is evolving," Mr. Spendor said of the Mondeo's marketing strategy.

The Ford Mondeo will be the company's third offering in India after the Ford Ikon and Ford Escort. Both those accounts are handled by Hindustan Thomson Associates, New Delhi. -- Ritesh Gupta.

Copyright July 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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