Ford starts Focus output in Russia
Ford has started production this week of its new Focus model at the Vsevolozhsk plant near St Petersburg, Russia for distribution to its 100-strong dealership network in the country.
The company has already secured 5,000 orders from Russian customers. Production started on Monday of the five-door version; the four-door and wagon versions will follow in September and January respectively, according to the company.
The Ford plant has an annual assembly capacity of 125,000 vehicles and in the first half of 2011 produced more than 38,000 Focuses for the domestic market. To date it has sold more than 500,000 units of the model in Russia since it went on sale in 1999; 400,000 have been built at the Vesvolozhsk plant which began production in 2002.
Ford’s 50:50 joint-venture agreement with Russian carmaker Sollers, which was signed in February this year, will accelerate the introduction of more Ford vehicles into the country. Ford Sollers will manufacture Ford models at the Vsevolozhsk plant and in the Republic of Tatarstan, more than 400km east of Moscow, for distribution throughout the country. Russian legislation on taxes and tariffs for foreign carmakers stipulates that Ford will have to produce at least 300,000 vehicles per year in Russia.
Ford Sollers will be responsible for the import and distribution of Ford brand products, parts and accessories in Russia. The joint venture is also planning to export vehicles and engines to Europe.
Bobcat to benefit from Chep solution
Pallet and container pooling services provider Chep has secured a new, three-year contract in the US with compact industrial vehicle producer Bobcat. Chep Automotive Americas will provide returnable packaging for its manufacturing operations in North Dakota, replacing the disposable packaging Bobcat has been using.
Jim Adkins, vice president, Bobcat North American Sourcing, said: "The Chep solution provides hard savings by eliminating costly corrugated packaging while providing an added environmental benefit, helping Bobcat to improve further its sustainability performance. These factors, along with a reduced need for capital investment to convert to returnables, were key in our decision to partner with Chep."
Pierre-Luc Mathieu, vice president & general manager, Chep Automotive Americas: "We are delighted to have secured Bobcat as a new customer for CHEP's North American automotive business, and look forward to a successful partnership in coming years."
Russia to retain 30% import duties
Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin has said the country will maintain 30% import duties on vehicles coming into the country during difficult negotiations with the EU and the US over entry to the World Trade Organisation.
Foreign carmakers can only pay lower import duties if they produce more than 300,000 cars a year and make 60% of parts in Russia. The policy, described by Putin as “a red line we won’t cross” is designed to promote joint venture production between foreign carmakers and domestic OEMs, as well as encourage the transfer of technology skills and increase productivity.
The comments appear to contradict statements made earlier this year by the Russian government when it stated it would cut import duties on new vehicles to 25% from the existing 30% following its proposed accession to the World Trade Organisation. This was met with scepticism amongst private operators in the country about what the deal will actually mean for them
Membership of the WTO would bring with it the promise of more investment, new technology and other benefits crucial for economic modernisation without making costly demands on foreign carmakers or their logistics providers moving products into the country, but many have already made investments to avoid this so the impact on finished vehicle carriers and logistics providers could be limited.
BLG takes Porsche award for logistics at Bremerhaven
BLG Automobile Logistics received the Porsche Supplier Award 2011 for its provision of vehicle transport and cargo handling at the Bremerhaven Auto Terminal in Germany.
Wolfgang Leimgruber and Uwe-Karsten Städter, members of the Porsche Board of Management, presented the award to Manfred Kuhr, deputy chairman of the Board of the BLG Logistics Group.
Around 60,000 Porsche vehicles will be exported via Bremerhaven this year, which represents nearly a doubling of the volume in the previous year. BLG AutoRail also offers Porsche transport services via rail to Bremerhaven and Emden.
Toyota calls on the Philippines to support parts exports
Toyota Motor Philippines, together with parts suppliers located in the Toyota Special Economic Zone in Santa Rosa, Laguna, are calling on the Philippines government to develop a special programme for parts exports similar to that for exports of finished vehicles. The group of companies said that the country could potentially lose a significant portion of its automotive export sales if parts manufacturing is not supported because of stiffer competition from countries with which the Philippines has free trade agreements. Increasing costs could also undermine the Philippines as a production base for parts manufacturing.
Michinobu Sugata, president of Toyota Motor Philippines, also said that while the medium-term prospects for the automotive industry is promising, locally-produced vehicles will face additional threat from imported vehicles, especially with tariff concessions under the Asean-Korea and Asean-China FTAs beginning in 2012.
Toyota and its supplier group in the Philippines is composed of automotive parts makers supplying to various production bases worldwide. Combined exports of parts and components in 2010 amounted to $860m, which is equivalent to 86,000 units of CBU vehicle export.