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Business news, 28.04.2006 11:33

Ford Looks to Expand Production at Russian Auto Plant

ford_russian_plant Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is looking at ways to boost production at its plant near St. Petersburg to 72,000 cars in 2007, the carmaker's president said Wednesday.

The company will need additional investment to go ahead with the project, said Henrik Nenzen, Ford president for Russia and the CIS, but gave no specific figures.

Nenzen said Ford planned to import some 8,000 Ford Focuses from Germany to meet demand in Russia, and that the company had 32,000 outstanding orders in Russia. He said around $230 million had been invested in the factory outside Russia's second city so far, and that the company's output target for 2006 was 60,000 cars.

Although Ford is shutting down plants in the U.S. in the faces of tough competition from Toyota Motor Co. (NYSE: TM) and Nissan Motors (Nasdaq: NSANY), Nenzen said it was not afraid of competition from its Asian rivals in Russia.

Nissan unveiled plans Tuesday to build an assembly plant in St. Petersburg, saying a total of $200 million would be invested in the project, which would see the first cars adapted for Russia rolling off the production line in 2009. Production is initially set at 50,000 cars a year.

Toyota has signed a memorandum on its intention to build a plant near St. Petersburg, and is completing an agreement on investments.

Toyota and Nissan's advent in the region will be an additional spur for local carmakers, Nenzen said, adding that Ford's Russian branch bought 30% of component parts from Russian producers.

Shares of Ford closed up 27 cents, or 3.87 percent, at $7.25 Wednesday. Toyota's shares were up 32 cents at $116.30 and Nissan's shares closed down 1 cent at $25.95.

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