The most progressive Ford Motor Co. plant is the Camacari plant in northeast Brazil where the subcompact EcoSport SUV and Fiesta are built using advanced manufacturing concepts.
In 2009, the plant produced 207,180 vehicles for South America. It's no coincidence that this plant is where Ford is investing millions in a global design and engineering center for subcompact vehicles.
According to Ford executives, Camacari is part of a plan to expand its operations in Brazil. In the last two years, Ford has hired nearly 1,300 more engineers. In an interview, Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of global marketing, sales and service, said that Brazil is incredibly important to the company.
Farley added that when it comes to vehicle sales, Brazil is in the top two countries. Ford's focus on its Brazilian unit is understandable since it does excel in terms of growing product development expertise and it also brings in much profit for its Dearborn, Mich. base.
Ford executives said that profits stemming from South American operations were vital in preventing Ford from being forced to take federal loans in 2009.
In addition, the Brazilian market itself is poised for remarkable sales growth. Under the one Ford system instigated by CEO Alan Mulally, the investment there is expected to produce new products and technology that will be used globally. Executives also said that Ford's investment in Brazil brings new opportunities for US suppliers as well as new best practices for US dealerships.