Updated from 2:06 a.m. EDT



) --


(F) - Get Report

confirmed Wednesday it will launch a new low-cost small car built specifically for Asia.

The "Figo", which is Italian slang for "cool," will initially be for sale in India but there are also plans to export the car to other Asian countries, Ford executives told a press conference, reports the

Associated Press

. Production is slated to start in the first quarter of next year.

"This new car will be a game changer," said Michael Boneham, president of Ford India. "It will give us muscle in the heart of the Indian market."

Ford plans to double production capacity at its plant in the southeastern city of Chennai to 200,000 vehicles a year, part of a $500 million India investment plan announced in January 2008.

Ford sold only 30,000 cars in India last year, according to the

Wall Street Journal


Ford also plans to announce later this week its third assembly plant in China, the



Ford's making a big push this week to shore up its operations in Asia, which have long been a weak link, the



In China, the automaker is expected to announce Friday a third plant with partner

Chonqing Changan Automobile

, bringing total capacity to more than 600,000 vehicles a year. Its two plants in China now produce about 447,000 cars a year, the newspaper says.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York


Follow TheStreet.com on


and become a fan on


Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.