Craiova, Romania – The Ford Motor Company has become the majority owner of the former Automobile Craiova vehicle manufacturing complex in Romania. The first Ford vehicle is expected to be produced sometime around the middle of 2009.

“I am extremely proud to be able to welcome Ford Craiova into the global Ford family,” said John Fleming, President and CEO of Ford of Europe. “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 characterized 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.”

The first external sign of the change of ownership is a banner with the blue Ford oval trademark on the plant’s administrative building.

The company will begin production with the Ford Transit Connect. Fleming confirmed that a second vehicle will begin production in 2010 and 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.”

Ford has reached an agreement with the existing major OEM customer of the plant to continue production of completed cars, engines and transmissions through to the end of 2008 at the least, and will also honour all legal obligations in Romania regarding the manufacture of spare parts for those vehicles previously built at the plant and still in service. The company will upgrade the plant in stages, including the automation of some press shop lines, a new body construction shop, an expanded flexible paint shop, and new equipment and tooling in trim and final assembly. Ford expects to spend around one billion Euros a year to support the Craiova operations, which will ultimately have a production capacity of 300,000 vehicles and 300,000 engines, and will increase employment from the current 3,900 workers to 7,000 people.

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