Ford Motor Co. will next year begin building its Edge midsize and EcoSport subcompact SUVs in Russia, the automakerís latest effort to increase its sales share there.
Ford and its Russian joint venture, Ford Sollers, will begin manufacturing the EcoSport subcompact SUV at an upgraded assembly plant and the Ford Edge at another plant. Both plants are in the Republic of Tatarstan.
The Edge and EcoSport will join the Explorer full-size and Kuga compact SUVs as offerings for Russian consumers. One in three vehicles sold in Russia is an SUV.
Bill Ford Jr., Fordís executive chairman, made the announcements on Monday as part of a trip to Ford Sollersí Russian operations.
The additional production will result in 500 new jobs. With the new hires, Ford and Ford Sollers will employ about 2,500 in the region.
The passenger car market in Russia could grow by 1 million vehicles annually and top 3.5 million sales, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, though sales have sputtered so far in 2013.
Automakers in total will invest more than $10 billion in upgrades and expansions in Europe through 2020, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
Ford just finished building a plant and is working on a new $274 million engine plant. The Dearborn automaker will triple its capacity in Russia to about 350,000 vehicles in coming years.
GM is in the midst of a $1 billion investment push in Russia to increase annual production capacity from about 100,000 to 230,000 vehicles.
Those capacity additions will not only help automakers fill the demand for autos in Russia, but also in nearby countries like Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, where auto markets are still in their infancy stages.