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    VSEVOLOZHSK FORD PLANT TO BOOST PRODUCTION IN 2004

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    MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - In 2004, the Ford factory in Vsevolozhsk (near St. Petersburg) plans to make 27,000 automobiles compared to 16,000 in 2003, a 67% increase.

    Ford Russia President Genrik Nenzin said that the Vsevolozhsk plant, which has a maximum annual capacity of 100,000 cars, opened in 2002 and was designed to assemble 3-4 models. Currently, the factory is only producing the Ford Focus.

    Mr. Nenzin said that the Vsevolozhsk factory does not simply assemble the cars, but manufactures some of the parts (the portion of parts manufactured in Russia is increasing). The quality of Russian-made cars is quite high, Mr. Nenzin said. "Tests show that the Ford Focus made in Russia is even better than in Germany," he said.

    Ford has inquired into preferences of Russian buyers and found that about 80% of them would like their cars to have ABS brakes, 73% want automatic transmission, 69% want climate control, and 41% want air bags. Russian buyers put quality above price. The Ford representative also noted that the solvency of Russian buyers is increasing.

    "We have a high growth potential in the Russian market and believe in support from the regional and federal bodies of power," Mr. Nenzin said.

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