Ford Sollers, a joint venture of between Ford Motor Co. and Sollers OJSC, will start producing the Ford EcoSport in Russia in 2014, according to Ford officials. Ford Europe chief Stephen Odell remarked that the the Russian market will be the largest in Europe in the coming years and represents an important growth opportunity.
Production of the Ford EcoSport will start at one of the Ford Sollers’ two sites in Tatarstan in the second half of 2014, considered a timely move as demand for sports utility vehicle continues to grow in Russia. According to Ted Cannis, head of the Ford Sollers, the EcoSport will allow Ford to cater to consumers who seek small SUVs, noting that only a few carmakers are competing in segment.
He noted other carmakers import their SUVs to Russia, resulting to higher prices, adding that building the EcoSport in Russia allows Ford to sell the vehicle at a lower price. He remarked that Ford’s decision to build the small SUV in Russia would result to a “massive success.”Ford Sollers also runs vehicle assembly sites in Naberezhnye Chelny in Tatarstan and in Vsevolozhsk near St. Petersburg.
The joint venture started it operations building just two cars – the compact Focus and mid-sized Mondeo. After 18 months, production grew to include seven models – Focus, Mondeo, Galaxy large minivan, S-MAX large minivan, Transit large van, the Kuga medium SUV and the Explorer large SUV. Ford Sollers recently broke ground on a $274 million powertrain site in Elabuga in Tatarstan, which will employ 500 workers.