Ford Halts Russia Production for a Month

The Ford Focus brand is currently the best-selling foreign cars in Russia, with 75,000 units sold in the first 10 months of 2008.

Ford Motor Co. said on Dec. 8 it would be halting production at its factory in Russia for almost month, responding to the slowing demand for cars caused by the global economic crisis.

"The Ford production line in Vsevolozhsk will halt from December 24 until January 21 due to the New Year holidays and the need to reduce the production volumes," the company's Russia operation said. "The group took its decision to temporarily reduce the Russian production volumes at Ford due to the market situation and the lower sales in the car industry in general."

The factory, which is located 15 miles east of Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg, employs 2,200 workers who Ford hopes will be producing 125,000 cars a year by 2009.

The break, which is far longer that the January 1-10 holiday foreseen under the official New Year holidays, will also allow the carmaker to finish preparations for the start of production of the new Ford Modeo in March 2009.

Employees at the factory will be paid at two-thirds salary during their break, in line with Russian law, Ford said.

Ford is one of the most popular foreign carmakers in Russia and its Ford Focus brand is currently the best-selling foreign car, with 75,000 units sold in the first 10 months of 2008.

But the economic crisis is expected to hit Russia's nascent middle class hard, with growth seen sharply lower over the next year compared with the stellar rates over the last decade.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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