Ford to Build New Small Car in Romania

Will also produce high-tech engine offering 20% better fuel economy

Ford will start to produce a new small car next year at its Romanian plant and it stands by its investment in the country, the company said August 11.

"The vehicle that we will launch next year will be a small car. It will be... approximately 150,000 (units) a year. It will be a unique vehicle. It will not be a vehicle that we have in the portfolio at the moment," Ford's executive vice-president for Global Manufacturing, John Fleming, said.

He refused to give more details about the vehicle for "competitive reasons."

Fleming acknowledged that Ford was behind with its plans for the plant in Craiova, 155 miles west of Bucharest. Ford bought the former Daewoo plant in 2008 and promised to invest $880 million to increase annual capacity to 300,000 cars and 300,000 engines from 2011.

The company was supposed to produce up to 250,000 cars by the end of 2011, according to an agreement with the Romanian government.

"We are late but we will get all of the capacity installed. We will be able to produce 300,000 vehicles by 2013," Fleming said, stressing that the 675-million-euro investment target remained unchanged.

Actual production could be lower, at 225,000 units in 2013, depending on market conditions, Fleming said, adding that the company also plans to produce here a high-tech engine offering 20% better fuel economy.

Ford said it intends to hire around 3,500 people in the next two years, alongside the more than 3,500 employees it took over from Daewoo.

About 80% of the vehicles produced in Romania will be exported to other European countries.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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