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Transit Connect Becomes Ford's Romanian Connection

 

 

4th April, 2008

Ford Transit Connect

Ford Motor Company recently (21st March, 2008) became the majority owner of the former Automobile Craiova vehicle manufacturing complex in Romania.

At a ceremony in the plant, the documents completing the sale were signed by the chief negotiators for each side Mr. Sebastian Vladescu, President of the privatisation committee for Automobile Craiova and Mr. Lyle Watters, Director of Business Strategy, Ford of Europe.

Traian Basescu, President of Romania, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Prime Minister of Romania and John Fleming, President and CEO, Ford of Europe were in Craiova to witness the ceremony.

"I am extremely proud to be able to welcome Ford Craiova into the global Ford family," John Fleming told a gathering of the company's newest workers.

"This facility joins seven other Ford vehicle assembly plants and thirteen engine, transmission, casting, forging, stamping, tool and die plants (including joint ventures) across Europe. All are characterised by world-class standards of manufacturing quality and efficiency. We are committed to transforming Craiova into a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant through an investment of 675 million Euros."

Prime Minister Tariceanu commented: "To have Ford now firmly installed as the new owner of the plant is the successful outcome of intensive discussions and negotiations over the past two years. On behalf of the government of Romania, I say 'welcome' to Ford and wish them much success for the future."

To mark the handover milestone, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the main entrance.

The first external sign of the change of ownership is a huge Ford banner carrying the company's distinctive blue oval trademark which has been erected on the administration building at the plant.

During his visit to Craiova, Mr. Fleming confirmed that the first Ford vehicle is now expected to come off the production line in Romania sometime around the middle of 2009.

"There has been a lot of speculation in Romania and elsewhere about what that first vehicle will be. Let me end that speculation today by announcing that we shall begin manufacturing the award-winning Transit Connect here in Craiova from next year," Mr. Fleming said at the ceremony.

"All our European plants are working at full manned capacity and this is also the case at our plant at Kocaeli in Turkey, where Transit Connect is currently produced. Demand for the vehicle continues to increase across our traditional markets and new market opportunities are also presenting themselves. Recently we announced that the Transit Connect is to go on sale in selected American markets in the (northern) summer of 2009. We have therefore taken the decision to use the Craiova plant capacity to meet the growing demand for the Transit Connect," he added.

Mr. Fleming also confirmed that a second vehicle would begin production at the plant in 2010. "Our first Romanian car will be unique to Craiova. It will be a small car not the new Fiesta - and will be for sale in all our European markets. For reasons of commercial confidentiality I am not prepared to say any more at this stage."

To assist with the full integration of the plant into the Ford Production System, Ford of Europe is assigning a number of executives to Craiova, to work with the existing plant management.

These will be led by Dioni Campos, who has a great deal of Ford manufacturing plant experience. He becomes President Ford Romania SA, with the existing management team reporting to him.

Other Ford senior personnel who will be working in Craiova include Angella Alexander, Human Resources Director and Len Meany, who becomes Chief Financial Officer.

"We are now developing a full organisation structure," explained Mr. Fleming.

Ford has reached agreement with the existing major OEM customer of the plant to continue production of completed cars, engines and transmissions through to, at least, the end of 2008. In addition, Ford has committed to honour all its legal obligations in Romania regarding the manufacture of spare parts for those vehicles previously built at the plant and still in service.

Work will begin soon on modernising the plant. Projects to be progressively undertaken include the automation of some of the existing lines in the press shop; the installation of a new body construction shop; the modernisation 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.

"I would like to place on record the appreciation of Ford Motor Company to the government of Romanian and its privatisation agency, AVAS, for their encouragement and advice during the period we have been discussing and negotiating the purchase of the Craiova plant," concluded Mr. Fleming.



Notes:

  • By 2012 Ford expects to be spending around 1 billion Euros a year in Romania to support the Craiova operations.
  • Employment levels at the plant will almost double, from the existing 3,900 to 7,000.
  • Annual vehicle and engine production will rise to 300,000 units each.
  • Craiova will be incorporated into the global Ford organisation, building strong relationships with local, regional and global economies.
  • Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 47 individual markets, including Russia and Turkey. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. Ford of Europe now employs approximately 67,500 people. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 21 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures.
  • In 2007 the company made and sold almost 1.9 million vehicles in Europe and made a profit before tax of $997 million.



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