Ford, one of the world’s leading car industry players, has decided to cease production of its B-Max family van and switch to developing and producing more crossover models.
The company said on Monday that it plans to end the production of B-Max model at its Romanian plant in September and to hire 500 to support EcoSport SUV production at the same plant, set to begin in the autumn.
The decision was taken due to market developments and dynamics at the B-segment, as more and more customers have started preferring SUVs and Crossovers to multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), which include B-Max, Ford said in a press release.
The company said it will hire a further 500 workers to boost EcoSport production, taking the total number of newly recruited employees at its plant in Craiova, in southern Romania, to over 1,700. Since the beginning of the year, Ford has hired 976 workers and 200 auxiliary staff at the plant.
Ford B-Max has been performing well since its launch in 2012. However, the small class has evolved and the MPV are gradually replaced by SUVs and Crossovers. In this context, we will build the EcoSport small class for customers in Europe at our plant in Craiova starting autumn,” Ford announced and reminded that they will try to make the switch as painless as possible.
It will be interesting to see whether Ford will sell the European EcoSport with an all-wheel-drive system as it’s the case in the U.S. Only a few B-segment Euro crossovers are available with AWD, so consumers will have to wait and see if the new model gets the same treatment. If so, the AWD version will probably be available only on the higher-end trim levels and with the most powerful engines.
As announced in March 2016, the investment in the EcoSport assembly plant adds up to 200 million euro. The EcoSport model that will be produced in Craiova will be sold in Europe, except Russia.
Presently, EcoSport is produced in Ford’s Indian plant in Chennai. The Chennai plant will continue to make the EcoSport for domestic sales and for other markets.
Ford entered Romania in March 2008 when it wrapped up the acquisition of a 72.4% stake in Automobile Craiova, the sole owner of car maker and distributor Daewoo Automobile Romania. In 2012, the plant in Craiova launched production of the B-Max model, which it sells only on the European market. The company also produces EcoBoost 1.0 litre- and 1.5 litre-engines in Craiova.
Ford estimates it has invested over 1 billion euro in its plant in Craiova since 2008, being one of the biggest investors in recent Romanian history. The plant currently employs 2,860 workers and fuels several domestic factories which cooperate with Ford and provide supplies.