Ford of Europe has invited 40 top European automotive industry suppliers to its newly-acquired Romanian assembly plant on 3 September.

The suppliers will attend a meeting at Craiova, during which the automaker will brief them on the company's plans for transforming the plant into a "state-of-the-art" manufacturing facility.

"The conference is an example that we are honouring one of the commitments we made at the time of the bid process for the plant, when we said we would encourage our suppliers to consider ways of bringing business to Romania, either by using Romanian suppliers for their own requirements or establishing facilities of their own in Romania in support of our Craiova operations" said Ford Europe president and CEO John Fleming.

"However we will not be announcing any additional Craiova investments or employment," he added.

Most of the companies invited to attend already supply Ford in Europe with components for its seven other vehicle assembly plants in Belgium, Germany, Britain, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

Invitations have also been issued to some Romanian companies who currently do not have any business links with the carmaker.

Before travelling to Craiova, the suppliers will attend a  dinner in Bucharest on 2 September. Romanian prime minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu will also participate in the event.

"The supplier conference in Craiova is part of our supplier engagement strategy and a next logical step in the planning and preparation of our production at the plant," said Birgit Behrendt, executive director, global programmes and vice-president purchasing, Ford of Europe.

"In addition to us giving the suppliers an update on our Craiova plans, during the meeting they will be given details of local business opportunities, ranging from identifying Romanian companies capable of supplying them with goods or services through to what opportunities there are for establishing their own operations in Romania," she added.

Earlier this year, Ford confirmed that the Transit Connect light commercial vehicle - currently made only in Turkey - would be produced at Craiova from mid 2009. The company also confirmed that in 2010 a new small car, unique to Craiova but not the new Fiesta, would go into production there.

Ford became the majority owner of the former Automobile Craiova vehicle manufacturing complex on 21 March.

The facility joins the seven other assembly plants and 13 engine, transmission, casting, forging, stamping, tool and dies plants (including joint ventures) across Europe.

Ford is transforming Craiova by spending EUR675m and work to modernise the plant has already started. Projects include the installation of a new body shop; modernisation and expansion of the capacity and flexibility of the paint shop and new equipment and tooling in the trim and final assembly areas.

Ford said on 31 July it was planning to establish a dedicated national sales company (NSC) organisation in Romania, which will take full responsibility for the marketing, sales and service of its vehicles there from August 2010.

The establishment of an NSC in Romania follows a steady increase in sales in recent years and the purchase of the plant.

just-auto's exclusive backgrounder on the Craiova plant

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