MOSCOW— Ford Sollers, a division of Ford Motor Co., is accelerating its plan to grow in the burgeoning Russian market by announcing that it is building a $274-million engine plant in Elabuga, Tatarstan, and also will manufacture and sell the new Ford EcoSport small sports utility vehicle.
Production of the EcoSport will commence at a Ford Sollers plant in Tatarstan during the second half of 2014, while the manufacture of three versions of the 1.6-liter Duratec engine will begin at the new engine plant in December 2015.
“This is an important day for Ford Sollers and underscores how serious we are about investing in production in Russia and offering a full range of vehicles for customers in the fast-growing Russian market,” Ted Cannis, chief executive officer and president of Ford Sollers, said.
Ford Sollers, the joint venture formed in late 2011 between Ford Motor Co. and Sollers, operates three assembly plants in Russia. In 18 months, Ford Sollers has advanced from building two cars, Focus and Mondeo, to seven vehicles today: Focus, Mondeo, Galaxy, S-MAX, Transit, Kuga and Explorer and Transit.
“The demand for Ford SUVs is growing in Russia, and we’re pleased to announce that next year our already strong lineup of SUVs will be supplemented by the Ford EcoSport,” Adil Shirinov, executive director and chief operating officer of Ford Sollers, said. “Local production of the EcoSport by Ford Sollers in Tatarstan will help to strengthen the Ford brand position in Russia’s popular SUV segment.”
Today’s announcements were made in Elabuga and Moscow, and also involved Vadim Shvetsov, chief executive officer of Sollers; Mark Fields, Ford chief operating officer; and Stephen Odell, Ford executive vice president and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, who were visiting Russia.
New Russian engine plant investment
The official ground breaking for the all-new Ford Sollers Elabuga engine plant took place this morning in Tatarstan. Ildar Khalikov, prime minister of Tatarstan, attended the event. At 42,600 square meters, the facility will be approximately the size of six football fields.
“We are very excited that this will be the first passenger car engine plant in Tatarstan,” Shvetsov said. “The new Ford Sollers Elabuga engine plant shows that our plans are on track, and that Ford Sollers is becoming an increasingly important contributor to the growth of the Russian automotive industry.”
The plant will build three versions – 85 PS, 105 PS and 125 PS power levels – of the 1.6-liter, normally-aspirated Duratec gasoline engine. Lightweight, durable, economical and with low noise and emissions, Duratec was the first Ford engine with block, cylinder head, crankcase and pistons all made of aluminum.
The Ford Sollers Elabuga engine plant will have an annual capacity of up to 105,000 units, with the possibility for further expansion of up to 200,000 engines a year. At least 30 percent of Russian-built Ford vehicles will be equipped with these engines.
“Russia is a very important part of Ford’s One Ford plan for profitable growth,” Fields said. “The establishment of an engine plant here in Elabuga is another sign of the commitment Ford Sollers and its parent companies — Ford and Sollers — are making to serve customers in Russia and contribute to the growth of the Russian auto industry. Just like the Ford vehicles built here in Tatarstan and in St. Petersburg, the Ford engines built in Elabuga will meet Ford’s top global standards for quality, durability and performance.”
The new engine plant will initially employ 500 skilled workers, with the potential for more job growth should engine production increase.
Ford EcoSport comes to Russia
Ford Sollers also confirmed today the Ford EcoSport will be built and go on sale in Russia in the second half of 2014.
Based on Ford’s global B-segment platform, the EcoSport combines small car agility and fuel efficiency with the flexibility, spaciousness, four-wheel drive, high driving position and style of an SUV.
The EcoSport will strengthen Ford’s brand presence in the growing SUV and crossover market segment. The Russian range of Ford SUVs already includes the Ford Explorer and the new Ford Kuga.
“We are proud of Ford’s deep and successful SUV heritage,” Fields said. “The new EcoSport is a great example of our One Ford plan, which brings together all of our knowledge and experience in a truly global product development process. We are confident the EcoSport will be a great success with Russian customers in the important and growing SUV market segment.”
The EcoSport has been shaped to enhance fuel efficiency. The sub-compact SUV delivers a sporty and contemporary feel, and detailed headlamps reinforce the contemporary look.
The well-equipped EcoSport interior offers space for five people and their gear, outstanding levels of comfort and quietness.
The Tatarstan-built EcoSport will offer a comprehensive package of driver assistance technologies including electronic stability program, hill launch assist, SYNC voice-activated in-car connectivity system and a keyless entry & start system.
“The Russian market will be the largest in Europe in the coming years and represent an important growth opportunity,” said Odell. “The launch of the EcoSport is one more step in our plan to bring these very latest Ford vehicles — built to the highest quality, best safety and smartest design — to our Russian customers.”
Ford vehicle production started at the Ford Sollers plant in Elabuga, Tatarstan in 2012.
In addition to the vehicles it builds, Ford Sollers also sells other Ford vehicles in Russia. These include the Focus ST, Ranger, Transit Connect, Tourneo Connect, Tourneo Custom and Transit chassis cab.