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In order to meet the mounting demand in the Russian market, Ford Sollers, the joint venture between Ford Motor Co. (F - Analyst Report) and Sollers, is adding new vehicles to its production lineup in the nation. The company will be producing the Ford EcoSport sport utility vehicle (SUV) at the Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan vehicle assembly plant from 2014. The automaker also announced that it will be manufacturing the Ford Edge crossover SUV in the Ford Sollers assembly plant located at Elabuga, Tatarstan from early 2014.

The Naberezhnye Chelny plant is the third manufacturing plant of Ford Sollers in Russia. It will be operational from 2014.

Ford’s other two facilities in the region are located at Vsevolozhsk in Lenigradskaya Oblast and Elabuga in Tatarstan. The addition of Ford EcoSport and Ford Edge will complement the existing lineup of Ford’s vehicles, including Ford Explorer and Ford Kuga, in Russia.

Ford EcoSport combines the benefits of a small car and an SUV to provide speed, fuel economy, flexibility, legroom and stylish looks. The vehicle features a 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter engine with the option of either manual or automatic transmission. The vehicle is equipped with Electronic Stability Program, Hill Launch Assist, SYNC voice-activated in-car connectivity system and Keyless Entry & Start system driver assistance technologies.

Ford Edge features a 3.5-liter engine with automatic transmission and Intelligent All-Wheel Drive. It will be sold in Russia from the second half of next year.

Ford believes that this initiative will strengthen its brand position in the Russian market. It will also be beneficial for the Russian economy as the move is expected to create around 500 jobs in Tatarstan this year.

The Ford Sollers business has been very active ever since its creation two years ago. This year, it has started the production of Ford Explorer in the Elabuga plant. In addition, it initiated the building of a new engine plant in Tatarstan by investing $274 million. Moreover, a R&D center was developed in Moscow, with operations in the Leningradskaya Oblast and Tatarstan.

Ford currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other major automobile stocks worth considering are Daimler AG (DDAIF), Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (HMC - Analyst Report) and General Motors Company (GM - Analyst Report). Daimler is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock, while the other two carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
 

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