MOSCOW -- Ford Motor Co. said on Thursday it would double car production in Russia after investing $30 million in a local plant as it seeks to keep up with the country's booming demand for foreign-designed cars.
Demand for non-Russian models is booming thanks to six years of consecutive economic growth which has made new foreign cars more available and attractive to Russians than Soviet-style Ladas and Nivas.
Ford has already spent $300 million on its Vsevolozhsk plant near Russia's second city of St. Petersburg. The plant is due to produce 32,000 Focus models in 2005 and raise output to 60,000 cars next year, Ford said in a statement.
"Development is a key element of Ford's strategy in Europe, and expansion of this plant is an important step in that direction," John Fleming, head of Ford Europe, said in the Russian-language statement. "Sixty thousand is a good number but that's not the limit. We have the capacity to expand further," Fleming separately told reporters in Moscow through a Russian translator.
Ford was among the first firms to open a plant in Russia and its surging sales have prompted other producers such as Toyota Motor Corp. to follow suit.