Ford Cologne produces cars more quickly than any other car plant in Europe, according to the respected annual Harbour Report. The Fiesta is built at the plant in just 12.6 hours per car.

Germany's Automobilwoche newspaper said it had seen the latest (2007) report, which is not otherwise made public.

In previous years Nissan's Sunderland plant has led the ranking with the B-segment Micra, according to news agency dpa-AFX. Nissan nonetheless remains a leader, producing the strong-selling Qashqai crossover SUV in Sunderland in 14.7 hours.

Harbour Consulting, which prepared the report, said that the most important factor in improving productivity is reducing the number of assembly line work stations.

Nissan has just 84 in Sunderland, while Audi has 271 in Ingolstadt for the A3 and Volkswagen 284 for the Golf in Wolfsburg.