Ford Motor Company refused to comment on speculations that it will add production of the EcoSport SUV and the Ka minicar to its underused Craiova plant in Romania. Accordingly, the car maker is planning to build the EcoSport for Europe in the said factory.
Presently, Ford imports the EcoSport from India for European distributors. The Ka is also reportedly being considered for production at Craiova. Currently, Ford is in an industrial tie-up with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to create the Ka at the latter's factory in Tychy, Poland together with the Fiat 500, Ka's platform sibling.
The production of Ka in FCA's Tychy plant will end by April. Ford is offering a new Ka, which is inspired by Ford's global B platform underpinning the Fiesta subcompact, in India and Brazil. It is produced in Chennai, India together with the EcoSport. Ford Europe President Jim Farley declined to comment on the matter, saying that "nothing new" is to be revealed.
According to Farley, the plant in Craiova is a vital part of the company's operations. He said that Ford is to be "laser-focused" on getting the most out of the said factory. According to some reports, Ford might cancel the production of Ka in Europe as part of the company's efforts to improve profitability by dropping sales of low-margin models.
However, Farley hinted that Ford is dedicated to "a small car to Europe.” The Ka concept was launched in Barcelona in 2013, during which reliable sources claimed that the production version will begin in the region by late 2015. A company spokesman clarified that Ford is currently overhauling the newest generation of Ka for Europe.
Presently, the B-Max subcompact minivan is being produced at the Craiova plant. However, the plant operates well below the 300,000 capacity. A total of 46,315 B-Max units were sold last year, weaker by 14 percent compared to the sales recorded in the prior year. Ford sold 48,603 Ka units in Europe last year, down by eight percent year-over-year.
Meanwhile, the sales of EcoSport in the region tripled to 46,315 units. According to Farley, the car maker increased the EcoSport units exported to Europe after the upbeat results as the European market bought the idea of a redesigned SUV, which came without the tailgate-mounted spare wheel. Ford began the operations of the Craiova plant in 2009 after acquiring it from a company that used it to produce Daewoos.
The first vehicle produced in the plant was the Transit Connect light van, whose production has since been transferred to Ford's factory in Valencia, Spain.
Moreover, the 1.0-liter three cylinder EcoBoost gasoline engine of the B-Max and the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine of the Mondeo are also assembled at the Craiova plant. In 2011, Ford disclosed that it will build another subcompact vehicle in the said plant. However, the company did not reveal a timeframe.