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Thai-built Focus is Ford’s 350-millionth vehicle

Significant small: The Thai-built Focus rolls off Ford’s Rayong production line in a celebration of its 350-millionth vehicle.

Ford crosses 350 million milestone and claims Focus is best-selling nameplate

3 Sep 2012

FORD celebrated its 350-millionth vehicle on Friday as a Focus hatchback rolled off its recently opened production line at Rayong in Thailand, from which the Blue Oval’s Australian outpost has been sourcing the small car since July.

The company also used the announcement to claim its Focus small car became the world’s best-selling “single car nameplate” in the first half of this year, having shifted 489,616 units against the Toyota Corolla’s 462,187, according to research firm IHS Automotive.

However, Bloomberg reports that Toyota has disputed the claim because it excludes Corollas and their derivatives sold under different names in various markets, such as the European Auris hatch and US Matrix wagon.

Toyota hit its own production milestone recently, crossing the 200 million mark in its 77th year – representing an annual average of 2.6 million vehicles.

Ford’s production tally during its 109-year history equates to 3.2 million units per year on average, equivalent to one vehicle every 10 seconds.

The $US450 million ($A439m) Focus production facility in Thailand forms part of Ford’s $US6.7 billion investment in Asia-Pacific since 2006, and the company expects the region to “generate 60 percent of the industry’s future growth through 2020”.

 center imageLeft: Ford's John Fleming.

It describes the Focus production line at Rayong, which opened in May, as representing “the latest in Ford’s global manufacturing capabilities, with new stamping presses, flexible body shops and robotic capabilities that enable it to produce up to six different vehicles simultaneously”.

Ford executive vice-president of global manufacturing John Fleming said reaching the 350 million production milestone at the new Thai facility was “significant”.

“It underscores the power of our One Ford plan to deliver profitable growth with great products built in ultra-flexible and efficient facilities everywhere around the world.”

Ford aims to have Asia-Pacific production capacity for more than 2.9 million vehicles by the middle of the decade from a total of nine factories, with Rayong – which also builds the Fiesta light car and Ranger one-tonne ute – supplemented by six facilities in China and two in India.

It also plans to bring 50 new vehicles and powertrains to the Asia-Pacific market in the same timeframe – targeting 95 per cent of the Asia-Pacific volume to come from vehicles built on global platforms under the ‘One Ford’ program.

Part of One Ford is a ‘One Manufacturing’ plan that includes “standardising best practices, increasing production in growing markets and accelerating new vehicle introductions on fewer global platforms”.

Ford says that by next year more than 85 per cent of its volume will be underpinned by nine core vehicle platforms and plans to update its entire product portfolio at least once within the next four years.

Mr Fleming said the One Ford plan is transforming the company “in the spirit of Henry Ford’s innovative drive”.

He said the plan will enable Ford to “compete everywhere in the world with a full family of global vehicles that offer leading quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value”.

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