• Ford is investing up to €200 million to build its EcoSport small sports utility vehicle (SUV) at its Craiova Assembly Plant in Romania
  • Craiova Assembly to supply EcoSport for sale in all Ford's European markets, excluding Russia
  • EcoSport production in Craiova to start in the autumn of 2017
  • EcoSport sales in Europe up nearly 30 percent so far in 2016; small SUV market segment expected to grow 35 percent by 2017 to 1.5 million vehicles
Ford Motor Company confirmed today that it is investing up to €200 million to manufacture the Ford EcoSport small SUV at its Craiova Assembly Plant in Romania starting in the autumn of 2017.

The EcoSport sold in Europe, excluding Russia, is currently built at Ford India's Chennai Vehicle Assembly Plant. Ford's Chennai plant will continue to build the EcoSport for domestic Indian sales and for many export markets around the world.

"EcoSport sales are up nearly 30 percent this year and given the continued outlook for sales growth in the small SUV segment, it's the right time to move EcoSport production to Europe and take advantage of the excellent workforce and operations we have in Craiova," said Jim Farley, president and CEO, Ford of Europe.

SUVs are the fastest-growing segment in the European new vehicle market, up 23 percent last year compared with an overall industry sales growth of 10 percent. The small SUV segment in which the EcoSport competes rose 44 percent in 2015. Ford expects the small SUV segment to grow to about 1.5 million vehicles a year by 2017 - an increase of 35 percent on 2015.

Today's announcement follows productive discussions with the Romanian Government on developing a framework to help Ford transition from its existing investment to this new opportunity and to help maintain the global competitiveness of the Ford Craiova manufacturing operations.

Since taking over the Craiova facility in 2008, Ford has invested more than €1 billion in its Romanian manufacturing operations. The Ford B-MAX multi-activity vehicle is currently built in Craiova, plus Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine - the only engine to win the International Engine of the Year award three years in succession.

Ford also said today it will continue to seek opportunities to build further products in Craiova so that it can fully utilize the facility's capacity and asset utilization.

"Craiova has a bright future if it continues to improve its competitiveness and operational flexibility. The recent successful agreement on a two-year labor contract was a very positive step," Farley said. "We also need to continue to work with the government and local authorities to improve infrastructure and logistics."

Today's news follows Ford's recent commitment to launch five new vehicles to compete in the SUV and crossover space in Europe in the next three years, starting with new Ford Edge in the second quarter of 2016. Ford expects to surpass 200,000 SUV sales in Europe for the first time in 2016 - a growth of more than 30 percent compared with 2015.