The JV between Ford and Russian automaker Sollers plans to open an R&D center in Russia to adapt Ford cars to this market.
Ford Sollers said that the R&D center will have its activities based in three different locations in Russia: St Petersburg, Tatarstan and Moscow. The joint venture has plants in Tararstan and near St Petersburg where it manufactures the mid-sized Mondeo, compact Focus, Ford Explorer large SUV and Ford Kuga medium SUV. It also manufactures the S-Max, Transit van, Galaxy and Tourneo Custom large minivans.
Although sales in Russia have dropped for six consecutive months and its $2 trillion economy has faltered, automakers still make heavy investments in this market expecting demand to increase as customers begin to replace their old vehicles. The Association of European Businesses has recently reduced its sales forecast for 2013 by 5% to 2.8 million vehicles.
Ford will also begin production of the EcoSport in Russia in the second half of 2014. The automaker decided to build the EcoSport here as demand for small SUVs in the region continues to increase in Russia, therefore the company will attract a new range of customers that are looking for this type of vehicles.