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Old 10-14-2003, 06:51   #1 (permalink)
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S.E.Asia:Ford to spend $50 million to expand Philippine plant

By Ian C. Sayson / Bloomberg News

MANILA -- Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it will spend $50 million in the next three years to boost production at its Philippine plant by more than half.

The investment will raise the annual production capacity of Ford Group Philippines Inc. to 40,000 vehicles from 25,000 vehicles and double to 1,250 the number of workers at the facility, located in a province south of Manila.

"We need to invest in the market that we sell into," Ford Motor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr. told reporters at a briefing in Manila. "We expect production to ramp up so we are making this investment."

Ford is increasing its presence in the region to compete with other overseas automakers such as Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. Yesterday, Ford said it will spend $500 million with affiliate Mazda Motor Corp. to expand production in Thailand by almost half in the next three years.

Thailand's vehicle market is eight times the size of the Philippines, where about 80,000 units were sold last year, Philippine Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas said.

Ford also said it's expanding the range of vehicles it sells in the Philippines. It will begin selling its Everest sport- utility, as well as a three-liter variant of its Escape sport- utility and the Lynx sedan.

Ford Group Philippines is the only non-Japanese carmaker with an assembly plant in the Philippines. It is also the only automaker that exports Philippine-assembled vehicles, shipping them to Thailand and Indonesia.

Ford's Philippine unit sold 3,930 vehicles in the Philippines in the first nine months of the year, accounting for 5.6 percent of the nation's total sales during the period. It also exported 9,821 units of the Escape and Lynx.
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