Ford Motor Company ( F , quote ) and its joint venture Changan Ford Mazda Automobile opened a new assembly plant today in Chongqing, China. The $490 million plant will increase Ford's Chinese production capacity by 150,000 vehicles to over 600,000 vehicles per year.
This is a very special day," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. The new plant represents a "decades-long investment," and will "benefit Chongqing and western China for years to come."
The production line at "CQ2" is designed for maximum flexibility, enabling it to produce six different types of vehicles. This allows the company to bring new vehicles to market faster, and test new vehicles while maintaining full production speed.
The plant is beginning operations with the production of the next Ford Focus, and will have produced more than 150 prototypes for testing as it prepares for the market launch in the second quarter.
Ford is taking particular pride in its "sustainable paint shop." By using a wide range of technologies - from re-circulating the air in the paint shop spray booths to recovering heat energy from oven exhaust - the paint shop is designed to return massive energy and environmental savings. The company says the 58 million kWh of energy saved in the paint shop will be enough to power almost 20,000 households in a major Chinese city for a year.
Ford is a relative latecomer to the China market, and sold 320,658 vehicles there last year . However, it is growing quickly, with a 10% gain in year-over-year sales in December 2011.
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