Ford Organizes Supplier Conference in Romania

Automaker has invited 40 of Europe's top suppliers to discuss the future of its Craiova facility.

Ford Motor Co. announced today that Ford of Europe has invited 40 of the continent's top automotive suppliers to a conference at the company's plant in Craiova, Romania, on Sept. 3. The company plans to brief suppliers on its plans for transforming the plant into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

IndustryWeek posted a story on Ford's plans for the plant last July, which can be found here. Ford of Europe's president and CEO John Fleming said the conference is an example of how the company is honoring one of the commitments it made during the plant's bid process.

"We said we would encourage our suppliers to consider ways of bringing business to Romania, either by using Romanian suppliers for their own requirements or establishing facilities of their own in Romania in support of our Craiova operations," Fleming said. "However we will not be announcing any additional Craiova investments or employment actions."

Most of the companies invited to attend already supply Ford of Europe with components for its seven other vehicle assembly plants in Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, Spain and Turkey. Invitations have also been issued to some Romanian companies who currently do not have any business links with Ford.

Before travelling to Craiova, the suppliers will be the company's guests at a dinner in Bucharest on Sept. 2. The Prime Minister of Romania, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, will also participate in the event.

Birgit Behrendt, executive director of global programs and vice president of purchasing for Ford of Europe, said the conference is part of the company's supplier engagement strategy and a next logical step in the planning and preparation of our production at the plant.

"In addition to us giving the suppliers an update on our Craiova plans, during the meeting they will be given details of local business opportunities, ranging from identifying Romanian companies capable of supplying them with goods or services through to what opportunities there are for establishing their own operations in Romania," Behrendt added.

Earlier this year, Ford of Europe confirmed that the award-winning Ford Transit Connect light commercial vehicle will be produced at the Craiova plant from mid-2009. The company also confirmed that in 2010 a new small car, unique to Craiova but not the new Fiesta, would go into production there.

On March 21, Ford Motor Co. became the majority owner of the former Automobile Craiova vehicle manufacturing complex. The facility joins seven other Ford vehicle assembly plants and thirteen engine, transmission, casting, forging, stamping, tool and dies plants (including joint ventures) across Europe. All are characterised by world-class standards of manufacturing quality and efficiency.

Ford said it is committed to transforming the Craiova plant into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility through an investment of 675 million Euros. Work has already started on modernizing the plant. Projects include the installation of a new body construction shop; the modernization and expansion of the capacity and flexibility of the paint shop and new equipment and tooling in the trim and final areas of the assembly plant.

On July 31, Ford of Europe announced plans to establish a dedicated National Sales Company (NSC) organisation in Romania, which will take full responsibility for the marketing, sales and service of Ford vehicles there from August 2010.

The establishment of an NSC in Romania follows a steady increase in sales of Ford vehicles there in recent years and the purchase of the Craiova vehicle manufacturing plant in the south-west of the country.

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