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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ford Will Ramp Up Production by 20%

MTFord Russia president Henrik Nenzen
Ford, which emerged as the country's best-selling foreign carmaker in 2006, plans to increase production at its Russian plant by 20 percent and sell a total of 150,000 units this year, Ford Russia president Henrik Nenzen said.

Demand for the carmaker's models in Russia was so high last year that one of its domestic dealerships became its most successful all over the world by sales, Nenzen said.

In order to meet burgeoning domestic demand for foreign vehicles, Ford will increase production at its St. Petersburg plant by 20 percent to 75,000 units this year, Nenzen told reporters at a briefing late Thursday.

The St. Petersburg plant currently operates on a three-shift model and is aiming to extend overtime over weekends and increase efficiency levels, Nenzen said.

He declined to confirm media reports about the company starting production of two new models -- the mid-sized Mondeo sedan and the Maverick sport utility vehicle -- and said the plant would continue to manufacture the Ford Focus, which became the country's best-selling foreign automobile last year.

Ford sold 115,985 vehicles in 2006, becoming the best-selling foreign carmaker.

Last year, New York Motors, a Moscow-based dealer in new and second-hand Ford cars, sold 10,060 units, 25 percent more than the company's previous No. 1 dealer, Los Angeles-based Galpin Ford, sold over the same period, Nenzen told reporters. The carmaker's No. 2 dealer is also in Russia, he said.

"That's the wonder story of the Russian market," said Nenzen.

Ford is also pinning its hopes on seeing more growth in sales in the regions. The carmaker plans to have 174 dealerships in 100 towns by the end of 2007. It currently has 124 dealerships in 81 towns.

New foreign-branded cars outsold domestic brands for the first time in the country last year. Ford's turnover in Russia reached $2 billion last year, from just $17 million in 2000.

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report released Tuesday, last year Russians bought 1 million new foreign cars, both imported and assembled locally, up from 560,000 last year. In the same period, sales of domestic brands dropped 5 percent to 800,000 units.

Nenzen also said Ford had yet to recover more than $20 million that the carmaker paid the authorities after the government claimed that it had not respected the terms of a tax incentive scheme to encourage it to source more of its components domestically.

The authorities have since allowed the carmaker to switch to a new tax regime.