Leningrad-based Ford Motor Company plans to invest $US50 million of its own funds by the end of 2005 to build the new European Focus model, company president Henrik Nenzen told a press conference on Wednesday.

The launch of the new model will require the plant's assembly lines to be modified, Nenzen said, according to the Prime-Tass news agency.

The plant plans to start assembling the new Focus models in May 2005 and sell them from July, Nenzen said. The plant will produce three-door Focuses fitted with diesel engines, Nenzen added.

In January 2005, the company plans to decide on whether to increase its production capacity, he said.

Ford's share of the Russian car market rose to 13% in 2004 from 2.5% in 2003, Nenzen said, according to Prime-Tass, adding that the company expects its market share to remain at 13% in 2005.