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by Tim Beissmann

Ford is investing heavily in its European production facilities as it attempts to maximise productivity and expand its range of new and refreshed models.

Ford Motor Co. plans to launch at least 20 all-new or significantly updated vehicles in Europe over the next three years.

The largest investment will be made in Spain, where Ford will spend 812 million euros ($1.1 billion). According to Reuters, this will be the company’s biggest investment in the country in more than three decades.

The Valencia plant will become a hub for production of the Ford Kuga and Ford Transit Connect. It will continue to produce the Ford C-MAX and the 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine, which is destined for our Falcon from the beginning of 2012. Ford says the investment will create “several hundred jobs” at the plant.

The Saarlouis plant in Germany is the current heart of Ford Focus production. From late 2012 it will begin manufacturing the Focus Electric, and it has also been confirmed as the home of production for the next-generation Focus, which will arrive later this decade. Ford says 150 permanent jobs will be added in the short term.

The Cologne plant, also in Germany, will produce the refreshed Fiesta from next year, as well as the all-new model that will go on sale around the middle of the decade. Cologne will also become the hub for production of the all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which kicks off later this year.

Ford has also committed 675 million euros ($913 million) to its Craiova plant in Romania for the production of the all-new B-MAX and the 1.0-litre EcoBoost from early next year. It will also be home to a new B-segment vehicle in the near future.

Ford of Europe CEO, Stephen Odell, said the production announcements would enable the company to make use of its total production capacity and would provide a solid base for future growth.

“We’ve come through the worst of the economic crisis as a strong and profitable company, and we have a full pipeline of exciting vehicles coming to market,” Mr Odell said.

“Now we are taking the right actions to grow profitably in Europe.”

The news will be little relief for workers at Ford Australia, however, with the local arm in a state of production decline for much of the past decade.

Do you think Ford Motor Co. needs to show similar faith in Australia as it has in Spain, Germany and Romania? Or is Australia just too far from the action to be a serious player in Ford’s future production plans?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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