Craiova car plant enters the Ford era

Publish date: 09-09-2009
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For the time being, the Craiova-based plant will only make this model, Transit Connect, but in the future it will also put in production an undisclosed model of small vehicle.

"The new small car - which is not the Fiesta or the Ka - is scheduled to go into production in the near future," John Fleming announced. 30,000 vehicles at most in 2010 and no hiring until 2011.

The operational capacity of the Craiova plant will reach 300,000 vehicles and 300,000 engines in the near future and the unit will provide jobs to some 7,000 people, from 3,900 now. As John Fleming said, no more than 1,000-2,000 units will leave the plant by the end of this year, because of the difficult economic climate worldwide on one hand, but also due to the technology upgrading and personnel training programs still under way. Anyway, Ford will manufacture 20,000-30,000 vehicles in Craiova next year, and the 3,900 current employees are enough to secure the Ford operations in Craiova until year 2011, the Ford Europe official added.

For now, all the vehicles made by the Craiova plant will go to authorized dealers in Romania, but on a medium term the company plans to export most of its Transit Connect output mainly to countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

Once the upgrading process will end and the plant will reach its full capacity, Ford will fulfill its commitment of investing EUR 675 M in this production unit, Fleming declared in Craiova.

In 2009, Ford already conducted a capital increase worth EUR 250 M for its Craiova plant. In a symbolic gesture, the first vehicle produced here was donated to the Craiova municipal hospital. "We want to sell the other vehicles," Ford Europe President John Fleming optimistically told an amused audience.

During the last 18 months, the Craiova employees went through a thorough training program, consisting in no less than 380 specialized courses - a program worth a total EUR 12 M.

Ford encourages its suppliers to have operations in Romania, either by using local providers for their activity, or by opening their own branches here, so that they can support Ford operations in Craiova, Fleming added. According to estimations by US investors, four jobs in the horizontal industry will correspond to each employee of the Craiova plant. Ford also announced that, in the near future, it will also produce in Craiova a small gasoline engine, named Eco Boost.

During the ceremony, President Basescu voiced his gratitude to the American investor for the efforts it makes in Craiova, but he also thanked former PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu for the "flexibility he proved during negotiations with the US investor." He then shook hands with Tariceanu and invited him on stage, for the group picture. On the same occasion, President Basescu answered the criticism voiced by some German politicians against Romanian workers: "I know that, in a Western country, friend to us, politicians are stating opinions on Romanian workers… As a head of state, I would like to answer this unfair campaign… (asking them) to see the extraordinary success carmakers are having in Romania," the president said. "This is about an extraordinary partnership between managers and workers," the chief of state added, referring to the recent declarations of German politician Jurgen Ruttgers about Romanians being late at work and ignoring what they have to do.

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