Ford Cutting Jobs at Russian Plants on Weaker Ruble, Shifting Preferences
Company Cites Currency Swings, Lower Demand for Compacts
Russia may be in the headlines lately for its dubiously democratic attempt to annex Crimea, but the country's saber-rattling is also shattering the confidence of currency traders in its monetary unit, the ruble. Russian customers are also showing a growing preference for SUVs, and less demand for compact models. The convergence of these factors has prompted Ford to lay off a total of 950 workers at its two joint-venture production facilities in Russia; one in St. Petersburg, and the other in Tatarstan, Bloomberg reports.
Of the two, the harder hit is the St. Petersburg facility, which builds the Ford Focus compact and Mondeo (global Fusion) cars. That plant will cut 700 jobs as it discontinues a work shift in June. The plant in Elabuga, Tatarstan, which builds the EcoSport, Edge, and Explorer SUVs, will only cut 250 temporary workers, as it builds higher-demand sport-utility models that are gaining favor with Russian car buyers.
Just last May, Ford made a $274-million investment in the Tatarstan plant to add production of the B-segment EcoSport subcompact SUV, which followed Explorer production at the plant. The plant also added local production of the 1.6L Duratec I-4 engine. In addition to the EcoSport, Edge, and Explorer, Elabuga also builds the Ford Kuga (global Escape), Transit van, S-Max, and Galaxy vans.