Ford Sollers – Ford's joint venture business in Russia – has started production of the new Ford EcoSport small SUV in Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan.

Ford says around 1-in-3 new vehicles sold in Russia is an SUV, with Ford SUV sales up 36 percent so far in 2018.

Speaking at today's production launch ceremony, Steven Armstrong, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "Ford has a long heritage and global reputation for building high quality, technologically-advanced SUVs that our customers want to own. The Ford SUVs we manufacture and sell in Russia build on this vast experience and are tailor-made to meet the specific requirements of our Russian customers."

In the first four months of 2018, Ford SUV sales grew by 36 percent, and Ford expects the new EcoSport to enhance further its position in the Russian SUV market.

Just as in the rest of Europe, the fastest-growing sector in the Russian SUV market is the small SUV segment where the EcoSport competes, and which has grown by 500 percent in the past decade, Ford says.

"Ford is moving from being perceived as a car brand in Russia, to a brand where more than 50 percent of its sales are comprised by SUVs and Transit commercial vehicles," said Adil Shirinov, president and CEO, Ford Sollers.

All Ford vehicles built and sold in Russia by Ford Sollers are tailored to the specific needs of Russian customers.

For example, the new EcoSport features All-Wheel-Drive matched to an automatic transmission, a combination much in demand by Russian customers. The suspension and increased wading depth meet the requirements of Russian road conditions, while the Ron-92 petrol adaptations take into account the local fuel infrastructure. The additional USB port in the instrument panel is intended for screen-mounted gadgets that are so popular among Russian customers.

Ford Sollers builds seven Ford models in Russia. The Ford Focus and the Ford Mondeo are manufactured at the plant in Vsevolozhsk near St. Petersburg; the Ford Explorer, Ford Kuga and a lineup of Ford Transit special commercial vehicles are built in Elabuga, Tatarstan; the Ford Fiesta and the Ford EcoSport are manufactured in Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan.

In addition, Ford Sollers operates an engine plant in Elabuga, and R&D centres engaged in the adaptation and localization of Ford vehicles to meet Russian customer requirements. Today, there are 115 Ford dealers in 70 cities across Russia.