Ford will increase production at its St Petersburg assembly plant in Russia to take advantage of an extended scrappage scheme the government plans to introduce next year.

"With the car scrappage programme expected to be introduced in Russia next year, we believe it is necessary to start the realignment of our local production," said the managing director of Ford Russia, Nigel Brackenbury.

Prime minister Vladimir Putin said Russia would pay RUB50,000 (US$1,733) to car owners who trade-in vehicles over 10 years old for new, domestically made cars, including ones produced by foreign companies.

This is in addition to an existing scheme which subsidises loans on cars costing under RUB600,000. This means that 90% of Focus models are eligible but according to Brackenbury only one out of every five buyers is using the state loan programme.

The Ford factory moved to a four-day week in September, facing a 50% decline in car sales. The plant will now return to a five-day week in one unit from 11 December with the rest of the plant following a month later.

The Vsevolozshsk assembly plant, which builds Focus and Mondeo models, employs 2,460 people with a maximum capacity of 125,000 vehicles a year.

2009 output down 62%