Transit Connect production begins at Ford Craiova – Romania plant image

The first production Transit Connect light commercial vehicle came off the assembly line today at the new Ford manufacturing plant in Craiova, Romania.

“Today marks another step in the evolution of the Craiova Plant, and demonstrates that we are keeping our promise to transform Craiova into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility,” said John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.

Mr. Fleming also confirmed that the second vehicle to be produced in Craiova after the Transit Connect will be a small car. The new small car – which is not the Fiesta or the Ka – is scheduled to go into production in the near future. As announced earlier this year, Craiova also will build a small displacement, advanced EcoBoost petrol engine. The exact timing for the start of production for both products will be announced at a later date.

At full capacity, Craiova will be able to produce up to 300,000 vehicles and 300,000 engines annually and provide employment for approximately 7,000 people.

Ford Transit ConnectImage by napolifd via Flickr

The first Transit Connect off the line was donated to Craiova Municipal Hospital for use in its work with the local community. The first commercial shipment of newly-assembled Transit Connects from Craiova is destined for Ford dealers in Romania. Mid-term, Ford expects to export the majority of Craiova Transit Connect production, primarily to Central and Eastern Europe.

“Since the first day we became the new owner of the plant in March 2008, our entire team here has been working around the clock to deliver world-class standards of manufacturing quality and efficiency. Once the modernization of the plant is completed and we are running Craiova at full capacity, we will have met our commitment to invest 675 million Euros in this new manufacturing facility,” said Mr. Fleming.

Ford continues to encourage its existing suppliers to bring business to Romania, either by using Romanian suppliers or establishing facilities of their own in the country to support Ford’s Craiova operations. Ford also wants to establish co-operation with new Romanian suppliers and would like to use as many local services as possible, provided they meet Ford’s corporate standards.

In addition to working with suppliers, installing new production equipment and modernizing the facility’s infrastructure, much effort has been invested there in the training of employees. Some Craiova employees have spent time working in other Ford plants to gain more knowledge about the Ford Production System, while a significant number of Ford employees from all over Europe have travelled to Romania to train different groups of Craiova employees. Over 380 different training courses have been implemented for employees to date.

“Ford’s history in Romania goes back to the 1930s when we had a sales office and production plant here. Today, 73 years after production began at our first factory in this country, we are here today to open an exciting new chapter in the relationship between Ford and Romania.”

“I hope this new relationship between Ford and Romania will endure for many years to come, and benefit Ford, Craiova, Romania and its people,” said Mr. Fleming.