Ford announced Friday it will build passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles in Russia in partnership with a local automaker – Sollers.
The announcement came shortly after Italian automaker Fiat SpA backed out of a potential partnership with the same Russian company Sollers.
“It’s negative news for Fiat, which has lost an opportunity in a growing market,” said A.T. Kearney analyst Marco Santino. “Chrysler and Jeep are appealing brands in the country.”
“We are delighted to be taking this next step for Ford in Russia with our proposed partner, Sollers,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. “This is a great opportunity, and will provide Ford customers in Russia with more products and better service.
The joint venture, which would be called Ford Sollers, will manufacture and distribute Ford vehicles, and the operations are expected to start by the end of this year.
The proposed joint venture will include Ford and Sollers local production facilities in Vsevolozhsk (St. Petersburg region) and in the Republic of Tatarstan, and will manufacture a range of Ford passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.
In 2002, Ford became the first foreign auto manufacturer to start producing cars in Russia, and since then it has built a solid base in the country. Ford brings to the proposed joint venture its manufacturing experience, an extensive existing dealer network, and a strong reputation among Russian customers as a brand that sells great products in the Russian market. The proposed joint venture will have access to the global range of Ford’s latest products delivered under its One Ford plan.
Ford’s stock gained 13 cents to $16.10 in premarket trading on Friday.