Kuga will spur record production at Ford plant

CADIZ, Spain -- The launch of the Ford Kuga medium SUV will help the automaker reach record production levels at its Saarlouis plant in Germany.

Production at the plant will increase to 425,000 units this year from 392,000 last year, Ford of Europe said.

Ford will build about 45,000 Kugas this year and about 65,000 next year with the possibility that production can be expanded. The Saarlouis factory also builds the Focus and C-Max.

“There is always room for more production if the Kuga is successful,” Gunnar Herrmann, C-Car vehicle line director said at the Kuga’s launch here. Ford’s C-Car segment includes vehicles such as the Focus and C-Max.

“Saarlouis has the definite potential to go for new records this year,” Herrmann said.

Changing shift patterns and introducing additional shifts at the plant that employs 6,500 people would achieve the production increases, Herrmann said.

Herrmann said using technology from other Ford models had also reduced development time and costs for the Kuga.

The Kuga was developed in three years, compared with the six years it normally takes Ford to bring a new car to market.

“There was no ground up engineering required,” Herrmann said. “Every part of engineering and manufacturing benefited from previous experience.”

The Kuga shares the platform as the Focus and C-Max. Its overdrive system, which switches from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, was first used on the Volvo V50 lower-premium car.

The Kuga’s biggest markets are expected to be the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

The Kuga will go on sale in Europe starting in June. Prices will begin at 26,500 euros in Germany.

You may e-mail John Revill at jrevill@craincom.de

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