Ford’s history in Craiova goes back 9 years ago when the company bought the majority shares package of Automobile Craiova and two years later it became the 100% owner of the facility.
Production started in 2009, with the Transit Connect, followed in 2012 by the innovative small MPV – B-MAX and the1.0 EcoBoost engine, which has been awarded as International Engine of the year for three years in a raw.
Last year in March, Ford of Europe’s CEO came to Craiova and announced an additional investment of up to EUR 200 million to support the production of the new EcoSport, Ford’s small SUV.
Given the continued positive outlook for sales growth in this market segment, for Ford it made sense to move EcoSport production to a European manufacturing source and Craiova is the right place for that.
Thus, the Ford plant in Oltenia region is currently preparing for the start of the production for the new EcoSport, context in which important transformation has been made in the in two of the key areas within the facility, such as Trim& Chassis and Body& Stamping.
Just as an example, Ford’s Body& Stamping area in Craiova is now hosting more than 500 multi-functional robots which will have major contributions in terms of both quantity and quality of the product.
On top of investment made in technology, Ford also decided to invest in people and in order to respond to the upcoming estimate production volumes of the new EcoSport, Ford has already started the recruiting process of 976 people.
John Oldham, President of Ford Romania said that “the new jobs go hand-in-hand with the transformation of our plant which we started last winter to support the production of the Ford EcoSport.”
“By August, we’ll be welcoming our new people to Ford and teaching them their roles in preparation for the launch for the EcoSport,” added Marina Babară, Ford Romania HR Director.
On the sales side, Ford is running its activity in Romania from Bucharest office, as of August 2010 and it currently has a national dealers’ network of 37 locations, including 5 Ford Stores, spread throughout the country.
Ford’s dealers’ network is one of the most experienced in Romania and the brand’s sales results from 2016 and also the first quarter in 2017 speak for themselves.
Thus, in the first 3 months of this year, the Ford sales team in Romania registered a record by becoming the best sold imported brand in Romania, and also Ford ranks second on the overall sales on all segments, with an increase in volumes of 57% compared to the previous year.
The best sales month for Ford in Romania was March, with a market share of 14,4%.
“We started the year strongly and we’re very happy with that. We aim to keep up the same rythm throughout the year, especially as we are about to launch two startegic prodcts for our market: the all new Fiesta and of cpurse, the long waited EcoSport, which as of this fall will be produced at our Craiova plant” said Attila Szabo, Ford’s managing Director in Romania.
One key pillar for Ford’s activity in Romania is also represented by the company’s involvement in corporate social responsibility projects. One of these projects is Ford’s free defensive driving programmes addressed to youngers- Ford Driving Skills for life.
Ford launched the programme in Romania in 2014 and more than 5000 young drivers have been trained so far in various cities of Romania such as Bucharest, Craiova, Brasov, Iasi, Timisoara, Cluj and Oradea. The Romanian Ford DSFL team has also designed and launched last year a programme addressed to high schools, focusing on interactive workshops on drugs and alcohol prevention with 14-17 years old students.
In addition to Ford DSFL, the company has just inaugurated at the beginning of this year a Mechatronics Laboratory at Odobleja Highschool in Craiova, following a consistent investment made by the Ford Fund and Community Services, which also acts at the local level and of course with the support of the Craiova City Hall. In Ford’s vision, studying mechatronics would allow the engineers to have a much more flexible and technical approach, combining at the same time the most advanced technological and practical learnings and features.
With more than 2700 employees and another almost 1000 to join the company as of this fall, and an investment of more than 1.2 billion EURO, Ford is one of the most important American companies in Romania and their commitment in Romania is fully visible on all levels of activity from manufacturing, to sales and community.