MOSCOW, Russia - Ford Sollers, the Ford and Sollers joint venture in Russia formed two years ago, has announced the creation of a new research and development center in Russia.
The R&D operations in Russia will be integrareted into the Ford’s global Product Development function and will be responsible for the adaptation of Ford vehicles for the Russian market, including unique engineering, support of localization, testing, development of local versions of light commercial vehicles and homologation.
The new R&D activities will be based in three locations: Moscow, Tatarstan and the Leningradsky region. The Leningradsky region will be responsible for supporting volume production and quality management, while engineers in Tatarstan will handle the development of light commercial vehicles for the local market. The Moscow center will lead Ford Sollers overall R&D activities in Russia, and also will be responsible for the localization of content process in Russian-built Ford vehicles, supplier support, program management, testing, homologation and the overall R&D coordination process. The total number of Ford Sollers employees engaged in R&D activities will be about 150 by the end of 2014.
Ford vehicles sold in the Russian market have been developed through Ford’s global product development system. The new Russian R&D operations will enable Ford Sollers to accelerate the development of Ford products tailored for the Russian market, and also will help to adapt quickly new Ford technologies to deliver comfort, safety and economy for Russian customers.
The development of local versions of light commercial vehicles will enable Ford Sollers to extend Ford’s presence in the Russian light commercial vehicles market, which the company believes will be one of the main sales growth drivers in the upcoming years.
“We’re very pleased that Ford Sollers is fulfilling all the targets that we have outlined two years ago and this confirms Ford and Sollers commitment to the Russian market,” said Vadim Shvetsov, CEO, Sollers.
Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, is currently in Russia for product development reviews and to finalize the establishment of the Ford Sollers R&D operations in Russia.
“Russia is one of the most exciting and dynamic markets for the Ford brand anywhere in the world in terms of its size and specific product demands,” Nair said. “That’s why setting up R&D in Russia integrated into our global product development system is another important step in Ford’s brand development in Russia.”
Since its creation almost two years ago, Ford Sollers has grown rapidly from building the Ford Focus and Mondeo in a single plant in the Leningradsky region, to today manufacturing eight vehicles in two facilities – Vsevolozhsk, Leningradsky region, and Elabuga in Tatarstan. New vehicles include the iconic Ford Explorer and Kuga sports utility vehicles, Galaxy, S-MAX and Transit Tourneo multi-activity vehicles, plus the Transit light commercial vehicle. A third manufacturing plant starts operation soon in Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan. Earlier this year, Ford Sollers started work on a new $274 million (10 billion Rouble) engine plant in Tatarstan – the first passenger car engine plant in the region – and confirmed that the EcoSport small SUV would be manufactured and go on sale in Russia in the second half of 2014.