By Franz Rother, AutomobileWoche / April 18, 2005
COLOGNE, Germany -- Ford's plants in Europe are working at nearly full capacity because of strong demand for the new Focus and C-Max models.
Ford of Europe President John Fleming says the automaker has achieved "almost 100 percent" plant use.
Ford added shifts at its plant in Saarlouis, Germany, to handle orders for the Focus.
The automaker also has boosted the annual production capacity of its plant near St. Petersburg, Russia, to 40,000 units from 27,000. The Focus will go into production there in May.
But Ford will not increase plant capacity in Europe. "We now have the size that we need," Fleming says.
Ford has restructured its European plants over the past four years and has laid off 7,000 employees.
The second-generation Focus was introduced last fall. Its western Europe sales in the first two months of 2005 were 65,889, up 1,190 units compared with the year-ago period. January-February sales of the Focus-based C-Max minivan were 21,945, 2,063 units fewer than the previous year.
Fleming says Ford's prospects for new-car sales in eastern and central Europe are good, but the automaker does not need a new plant in the region.
He says those markets could be supplied from Ford's plant near Istanbul, Turkey, and from its "highly productive" plants in western Europe.
The Cologne, Germany, plant is at the top of Ford's internal productivity ranking, judged by assembly time per vehicle. Saarlouis is in second place, and Genk, Belgium, is third.
Only the Mondeo sedan is built in Genk, but the factory is being upgraded to add the new Galaxy minivan in 2006. Production of a crossover minivan based on a concept shown at the Geneva auto show last month also may go to Genk as early as this year.
From Automotive News