European Ford EcoSport to Be Produced in Craiova, Romania, from Fall 2017

Most of the 2,650 people working at Ford's Craiova plant in Romania are now in the body section of the factory, awaiting a key announcement. It's a big day for Craiova, as Jim Farley, Ford Europe President and CEO, has been driven into the factory in an EcoSport to announce that this model will be produced here starting fall 2017.
2016 Ford EcoSport 9 photos
Photo: Andrei Tutu
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The Blue Oval will invest €200 million ($224 million) into the project. Ford's Craiova site currently produces the B-Max, and yet the addition of the EcoSport will bring a booming increase in production, since Romania will become the small crossover's production hub for Europe (Russia is an exception, though).

Still, with the plant having been designed to include a team of 7,000 people, a plan conceived before the financial crisis, Craiova will easily take over European EcoSport production from the Indian factory in Chennai.

While Ford expects the factory's headcount to remain constant, at least over the next two years, the automaker is prepared to recruit additional workforce, should this be required.

Ford's B-segment SUV, which competes with models such as the Renault Captur and the Nissan Juke, was launched on the Old Continent last year. Nevertheless, Craiova won't produce the car we tested in 2014. While that was a slightly updated version of the second-generation model, which came to the world back in 2012, the 2017 model will be heavily touched by the EcoSport's mid-cycle refresh.

"The vehicle will be more of a looker than the current model and we will update many areas of the car," the CEO explained, much to the employees' thrill.

Farley also took the time to remind us that when Ford acquired the Craiova site back in 2008, the company wasn't aware of the recession lurking around the corner.

"We had no idea the biggest recession in living history would hit. A crisis that took two of America's Big Three, but not Ford, to bankruptcy," the CEO said.

Still, Ford has invested over €1 billion ($1,1 billion) since acquiring the plant, with Jim Farley now telling the Craiova staff that Ford hopes the site will continue to remain competitive in the new European context.

"The Craiova site has a solid future, providing it will continue to improve its competitiveness and flexibility. One positive step in this direction has been seen in the signing of the new contract [EcoSport] that assures production for the next two years," Farley said. "We must continue to work together with Romania's Government and the local authorities to improve both rail and road infrastructure," the executive added.

As the CEO leaves the scene, together with the promising EcoSport that saw employees studying it closely after the main presentation, the people are returning to their stations, as the entire factory has been put on hold for the big moment.

With Ford's previous estimates hinting at an European sales target of 100,000 models for the EcoSport, the CEO's firm and yet calm speech doubles the cash injected into Craiova with strong motivation.
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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