Official: Ford to build its EcoSport SUV at its Romanian plant from autumn 2017 [video] image

Ford announced on Tuesday its intention to produce the EcoSport small SUV at its Romanian plant in Craiova starting from autumn next year, an investment with a price tag of 200 million euros for the automaker.

Ford has finally decided to bring the production of its EcoSport small SUV in Europe to support the growing regional demand in the segment, thus investing 200 million euros (224 million dollars) to support the plan. Therefore, starting from the autumn of 2017, the model will be built at the company’s Romanian factory in Craiova, a facility that currently makes the B-Max mini-MPV. The confirmation has come from Jim Farley, president and CEO, Ford of Europe, who announced the move at the factory, in front of media and all plant’s workers as well. “EcoSport sales are up nearly 30 percent this year and given the continued outlook for sales growth in the small SUV segment, it’s the right time to move the production to Europe and take advantage of the excellent workforce and operations we have in Craiova,” he said.

The automaker will keep the EcoSport output in India for the local market and also for the emerging countries, as Craiova is to cover only the European demand, excluding Russia. As the production in Romania is set to start 18 months from now, it is highly probable the Craiova’s lines will roll out in 2017 a mid-cycle upgraded model of the EcoSport. Furthermore, Ford also said on Tuesday it would continue to seek opportunities to build further models in the country so that it can fully utilize the facility’s capacity, which is currently well below its 300,000 units-limit per year.

“Craiova has a bright future if it continues to improve its competitiveness and operational flexibility,” Farley said. “We also need to continue to work with the government and local authorities to improve infrastructure and logistics.”

The Detroit-based maker bought the Romanian plant eight years ago, investing around 1 billion dollars in the site so far, also making there – in addition to B-Max – the award winning EcoBoost 1.0-litre engine. At the moment, Ford employs at its Craiova plant 2,650 workers, who will also take on the output of the forthcoming model, as the company has no intention to hire extra staff.

As high-rider cars are on a fast advancing upward trend in Europe, Ford expects its SUV sales to grow by about 30 percent in 2016 compared with 2015, and to break the 200,000 sales barrier for the first time ever in Europe. It also sees the market to go up to approximately 1.5 million sport utility vehicles a year by 2017, up 35 percent from 2015, targeting around 20 percent market-share.