An agreement was recently reached between Ford Motor Co. and Russia's second-biggest automaker, OAO Sollers, to build automobiles in Russia. From January to May of 2001, Russian sales of new car and light commercial vehicles had grown by 60% to 989,013 units, according to the Association of European Businesses.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended the signing ceremony in Moscow. Sollers CEO Vadim Shvetsov said that production is expected to reach 350,000 vehicles annually in 2015.
Ford and Sollers will be constructing a plant that will manufacture 200,000 engines a year. Reporters received a Russian government factsheet that indicated that this Ford-Sollers venture will produce six Ford models, including the Focus, Mondeo, Transit and three other new models that will have launch dates from 2012 to 2014.
Stephen Odell, Ford's European chief, said that after six years, 60% or more of the parts will be built locally and that several new models will be exclusively built in Russia.
In addition, Ford and Sollers signed a letter of intent with VEB, Russia's state development bank, to get a 39 billion-ruble loan ($1.4 billion) for this project. The government said that it estimates the total investment to reach 74.5 billion rubles.
Odell said that by around 2015, the auto market in Russia could surpass 4 million vehicles, making it the biggest in Europe. Last month, the Association of European Businesses raised its full-year forecast to 2.35 million vehicles and it said that may still boost its prediction yet again.