It was only a few weeks ago that Ford Motor Co. launched the B-Max model but the automaker has already decided to terminate a shift at the Romanian plant that builds the small minivan. Ford will provide buyouts to several hourly workers at the plant in Craiova under what it refers to as a "limited voluntary separation program."
The factory, which is located 260km west of Bucharest, has about 3,600 workers, with most of them having been in service for over four years. A Ford spokesman said last Friday that talks with unions are ongoing. The Craiova plant will run on a single shift as Ford aims to exceed slow sales in Europe. Last month, Ford launched sales of the B-Max. The model is built on the same platform as the Fiesta subcompact.
It is also the replacement for the Europe-only Fusion minivan. Auto sales in Europe have fallen this year as economic weakness drives down consumer confidence. Ford estimates a loss of at least $3 billion in Europe over the next couple of years.
According to the industry organization ACEA, Ford sales in the EU and EFTA countries for the first 10 months of 2012 decreased by 12.4% to 786,989 while the total market is down 7.3% to 10.3 million.
Ford’s market share in the region declined from 8% to 7.6%. Ford said that about 500 employees at the assembly plant will be moved to the Craiova engine plant.
From just one shift, engine production will be increased to two shifts to cope with demand for Ford's 1.0-liter turbocharged engine and the impending launch of a new 1.5-liter engine. In 2008, Ford acquired the Craiova factory, a former Daewoo manufacturing plant. It paid 57 million euros to buy the Romanian government's 72.4% stake in the plant.
B-MAX presents Ford’s vision to bring to the market a premium compact MAV or multi-activity vehicle. The B-MAX is based on the carmaker’s global B-car platform, which it shares with the very successful new Ford Fiesta. The vehicle combines outstanding versatility and space within a stylish and smart exterior.
Ford B-MAX features the unique Easy Access Door System, which delivers a whole new level of access, convenience, and flexibility. It also showcases conventional, hinged rear sliding doors and front doors, as well as a new body design. The traditional central pillar structure is integrated into the doors.
When doors are open, the interior can be accessed easily and conveniently, thanks to the 1.5-meter-wide aperture. This means you can easily get in and get out the rear seats, conveniently attend to your children in their seats, and load or unload shopping bags.
This flexible seating system boasts 60/40 split rear seats, which you can fold flat simply with a one-hand-one-motion mechanism. You can also fold the front passenger seat and create a flat load floor from the front to the rear that can fit loads of up to 2.34 meters in length.
Engineers at Ford have developed innovative solutions ensuring that the B-MAX delivers outstanding crash protection levels that are similar to those of conventionally structured vehicles.