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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ford to Boost Output, Build Mondeo

MTFocus models being assembled at Ford's plant near St. Petersburg. The plant is undergoing a $100 million upgrade.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Ford Motor said Tuesday that it would boost output in Russia to 125,000 cars per year by 2009 from 72,000 as it seeks to satisfy booming demand in Europe's fastest-growing major car market.

The U.S. automaker will also start production of its Mondeo wagon in a $100 million upgrade of its Russian factory, which already makes the popular Focus model.

Ford executives said they hoped building work would start next year to expand the plant, near St. Petersburg, to produce 25,000 Mondeos yearly and expand Focus output by 28,000 units.

Ford's car sales in Russia rose 122 percent in the first half of the year to 82,000 units, according to industry figures, and if that trend continues it could soon oust General Motors as the country's most popular foreign brand.

"The Russian car market has experienced tremendous growth over the last several years," said Ford of Europe's president and chief executive, John Fleming, after meeting regional officials. "We see consumer demand continuing to rise for stylish cars."

Ford moved early to set up production in Russia, which has offered tax breaks to foreign carmakers. Like other new entrants, it has profited from the decline of market leader AvtoVAZ, which still makes clunky, Soviet-era models.

Auto sales are booming thanks to the country's economic surge and the growing availability of loan finance. PricewaterhouseCoopers has forecast that Russia will grow to become Europe's largest car market by 2011 with sales worth $96 billion.