Production of the new Ford S-MAX and Ford Galaxy began today at Ford’s assembly plant in Genk , Belgium , the latest additions to Ford’s expanding European car line-up.
The production milestone was commemorated at a plant ceremony today attended by Guy Verhofstadt, Prime Mini ster of Belgium, Fientje Moerman, Vice President of the Flemish government, and John Fleming, President and CEO, Ford of Europe.
The new models, which combine sporty styling with family practicality, go on sale next month in the major European markets. Ford plans to manufacture approximately 86,000 new S-MAX and Galaxy models through this year. At full capacity, Genk can build up to 550 S-MAX and Galaxy vehicles a day, together with 600 Ford Mondeo cars that are also produced at the plant.
"The production of the new Ford S-MAX and Ford Galaxy mark the start of a new era of flexible manufacturing at Genk ," said Fleming. "To produce the new vehicles with best-in-class quality and efficiency, we invested more than €715 million, primarily in a new flexible manufacturing system."
The S-MAX and Galaxy share the same assembly line with the Ford Mondeo. This allows Ford to adjust the sequence and production quantity of different vehicles within its mid-size family car segment. "The Genk plant now has a tremendous amount of flexibility, ensuring that we can respond very quickly to changes in customer demand," Fleming said.
More than 12 million vehicles have been built at Ford’s Genk plant since it opened in 1964. The Belgian facility is one of the most modern vehicle assembly plants in Europe , and a cornerstone of Ford of Europe’s lean manufacturing strategy. Genk will also produce the next generation Mondeo from 2007. The plant currently employs 5,000 employees. This figure excludes an additional 1,700 workers at the supplier park, adjacent to the assembly plant. Last year 207,163 vehicles were produced at Genk .
Including the Volvo plant in Ghent , Ford Motor Company is the No. 1 automotive company in Belgium , representing over 50 per cent of the country’s car production, employment and export.