Despite adverse market conditions, Ford is continuing to invest in Russia

Despite adverse market conditions, Ford is continuing to invest in Russia

Ford Sollers, Ford's Russian joint venture, has started production of the revised and facelifted Ford Focus at its Vsevolozhsk plant close to St. Petersburg.

Ford says the upgraded model has been specially-adapted for Russian winter and road conditions to meet the needs of Russian customers.

The latest Ford Focus will be produced in three body styles for the Russian market - sedan, hatchback and wagon.

The latest new model launch follows the launch of new new Mondeo launch earlier this year at the Ford Sollers Vsevolozhsk Assembly Plant which Ford says has undergone significant modernisation including the installation of new equipment, an increase in automation, new technological processes and upgraded production ergonomics.

Alexander Drozdenko, the Governor of the Leningrad region, said during the start of production ceremony: "I would like to thank the team of Ford Sollers for their commitment to developing the production facilities here in Vsevolozhsk. I am proud that we now have a very modern plant that is capable of building technologically advanced vehicles in the country with the use of locally built parts. The Ford Focus is a true people's car that really meets the demands of the modern customer in Russia."

"More than 720,000 Ford Focus cars have been sold in Russia since the car first went on-sale 13 years ago and for many years it was Russia's No.1 top-selling car - that's a tremendous record," said Ted Cannis, President and CEO, Ford Sollers.

"The new Focus - the most technologically-advanced Focus ever - will strengthen our position in the market and is sure to be a big hit with our customers."

Adil Shirinov, executive director and COO, Ford Sollers, added: "The new Focus is the fourth new Ford model to go into production at a Ford Sollers plant since the beginning of the year, and follows the all-new Mondeo in Vsevolozhsk, the Transit in Elabuga, and the Fiesta in Naberezhnie Chelny.

"Ford Sollers now produces seven Ford vehicles at its three assembly plants in Russia, and we are not slowing down in the development of our business. We are continuing to invest in the modernisation of our manufacturing facilities in Russia. For example, this year we will start local production of engines at a newly-constructed facility in Elabuga."

Ford says the latest Ford Focus is the first vehicle in the Russian Ford line-up to be equipped with the new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.

The Russian Focus has also been "fully-adapted for Russia's cold winter climate and road conditions by engineers at Ford Sollers R&D centre". Ford says it has passed "numerous complex tests on Russian roads with various surfaces, quality tests on the newest equipment, and has proven completely capable of exceeding the harsh climatic conditions during the winter tests". 

Carmakers have reacted to the crisis in the Russian economy - especially the collapse of the rouble - and vehicle market (which could be as much as 40% down this year) in different ways. Some brands have withdrawn cars from sale. General Motors decided to roll back on its Russian presence to reduce losses, but Ford has decided to continue to invest and weather the storm in the hope of a long-term return as Russia's economy and car market recovers.