Ford has built 6m Fiestas in Germany, 31 years after the first unit was assembled in Cologne. Production started in 1976 in Spain.

The six millionth German-built unit, a blue three-door Sport version with 1.6 litre engine, and destined for a German customer, rolled off the production line yesterday (4 May) at Ford’s Niehl assembly plant in Cologne.

Since Fiesta production began in 1976, the Fiesta has sold more than 13m units in total and has been built in four Ford European manufacturing plants, including Cologne.

The first car was built in Valencia, Spain in 1976, where – as with Niehl – the latest-generation Ford Fiesta continues to be built. From 1976 until 2002, the Fiesta was also built at Ford’s Dagenham plant in the UK and at the Saarlouis plant in Germany between 1976 and 1980. First-generation cars shipped to the US, where Mexican-built cars will relaunch the nameplate later this year, were built in Germany from 1979.

Around 4,300 employees are currently producing 1,885 Fiesta and Fusion [a small multi-purpose vehicle on the previous generation Fiesta platform; not the North American model of the same name – ed] units per day at the Niehl site. In 2009, the plant manufactured 406,200 cars – 350,500 Fiestas and 55,700 Fusions. Around 80% of production is exported.

Niehl production of the latest-generation Fiesta started in August 2008. Some 18 months after its debut, more than 750,000 customers have purchased the new Fiesta around the world, with more than 670,000 cars being sold in Europe.

Niehl also played a role in an initiative to introduce the new Fiesta to consumers in North America. Through its ‘Fiesta Movement’ programme, Ford selected 100 customers to drive the new Fiesta and then relate their experiences through social networking sites such as Facebook, FlickR and YouTube.

A fleet of 100 five-door models for the programme was built at the German plant and exported to North America in March 2009.

The Fiesta will begin to arrive in dealer showrooms in North America during this second quarter of 2010.

Ford also will launch its global Fiesta in key Asian Pacific markets during 2010. Aside from Niehl and Valencia in Europe, the Fiesta also is built in Nanjing, China and Rayong, Thailand.