Ford is to build its next generation Fiesta at its Almussafes plant in Valencia, Spain. The plant will be the second production source for the new vehicle together with Cologne in Germany. Almussafes will also continue to produce the current Focus and Ka.

Mazda has also chosen the site as a European production base for vehicles in its small car range.

David W. Thursfield, president and CEO of Ford of Europe said, "Valencia has demonstrated its capability of producing totally different vehicles on the same site, efficiently and with consistently high quality. The sourcing of these new vehicle programmes recognises this success and provides the basis for future development of the plant subject to demand projections and further efficiency and flexibility improvements".

Valencia is also to be the sole European source for the new Duratec I4 petrol engine family, starting in 2002. This will involve an investment of 37,000 million pesetas (equivalent to over $260 million).

Antonio S. Ades, Valencia pperations manager said, "These new production programmes give Valencia a key role in the future of manufacturing for Ford in Europe.

"The Almussafes plant remains in a good position to compete for future investment as long as it continues to deliver the flexibility and efficiency improvements necessary to sustain its competitive advantage and as long as it succeeds in finding jointly with the unions a new formula for the use of company assets."

Ford says the new vehicle 'sourcing actions' are the latest examples of its implementation of the European Transformation Strategy, which is designed to secure the future of the company in Europe.

Part of the strategy is to significantly improve asset utilisation and maximise vehicle production capacity. Valencia will offer the flexibility to meet demand for the new Fiesta over and above the capacity provided by Cologne and accommodating Mazda production will further enhance capacity utilisation.

The new vehicle and engine programmes will be supported by the supplier park adjoining the Almussafes site. The whole site, including the supplier park employs over 9700 people, an increase of 17 percent in the last 5 years.