Ford Spain expects production to rise 13% to 420,000 units this year, boosted by strong sales of its Focus line and the sedan derivavtive launched this year. The Focus continued to top sales in Spain this year, a company spokesman told just-auto.

Ford forecast it would sell 180,000 cars in Spain this year, up slightly from 2005, as strong sales for its commercial-vehicle lineup (including the Connect and Transit vans) offset falling registrations for ageing models such as the Mondeo.

Spain's car market is expected to shrink by 2% in 2006 as consumers feel the pinch from higher interest rates and crippling debt levels.

The spokesman said Focus sales would rise 5% to nearly 70,000 units as Spaniards continue to show enthusiasm for the car, which has led the overall market's sales for several years.

He said sales for the Fiesta model are going well and should reach 22,000 units this year from 21,000 in 2005.

Ford will continue to upgrade and boost production at its Almusafes, Valencia, factory which recently lost the European Mazda 2 model's assembly following the Japanese car maker's decision to shift it back to Japan.

Almusafes makes the four- and five-door Focus as well as the Fiesta five-door and the Ka supermini.

Ford will spend EUR16m in the next 12 months to streamline the site's painting facilities. The company has invested EUR255m to improve the factory in the past few years, the spokesman said.

Ivan Castano