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Auto blogThu, 03 Apr 2014 08:00:00 EST
The Russian auto market, in decline for the past year and further hit by the declining value of the ruble and recent sanctions over its annexation of Crimea, has forced Ford to cut jobs and shifts at two of its joint venture plants there. Around 700 of the 2,700 total workers who build the Russian-market Focus and Mondeo will be cut at the plant in Vsevolozhsk, near St. Petersburg as it drops to a single production shift. A second plant about 700 miles away in Yelabuga, in the Tartarstan region, will lose 250 workers. That plant builds seven vehicles, including the Explorer, Kuga and Edge.
The Moscow Times says Ford has been especially hit by the market decline, the overall market losing 5.5 percent in 2013 compared to the year before, but Ford sales dropping 18 percent in 2013 year-on-year. This year isn't going any better, with The Blue Oval posting a 21-percent decline through the first two months of 2014. That's why, though the Yelabuga plant builds the CUVs that customers are moving into, even it is facing cuts.
The job cuts in Vsevolozhsk come on top four-week plant shutdown planned so that the paint and body shops can go to one shift. In a statement, the company said, "Ford Sollers remains absolutely committed to the Russian market and is confident it has the right product plan, people and assets to deliver long-term profitable growth."
Between a bevvy of spy shots, speculative renders and insidery images from the halls of Car and Driver, we've got a pretty decent idea of what the 2015 Ford Mustang might look like. Still, we're excited to see the real deal as soon as possible.
Turns out that Ford has told us just when that first official look might come, too, although it has chosen somewhat of a backdoor fashion for dropping the news.
The video below popped up on the Ford Mustang YouTube channel this morning, promoting a social media effort called #MustangInspires on. The video and hashtag ask fans of the pony car to share pictures of the car - or "photographic stories of inspiration" - on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. But the truly interesting part of the video description is that which mentions taking "the cover off the all-new Mustang" on December 5. Consider our calendars marked.
Ford has officially unveiled the Figo Concept at the 2014 Auto Expo in New Delhi. While it may wear a concept badge, we'd argue this little sedan, which is under 12 feet long, looks ready to replace the current Figo and do battle with other B-segment cars in the world's emerging markets.
"With the Figo Concept, we are showing that choosing a compact sedan does not mean compromising on premium design or smart solutions," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford's VP of engineering, global product development. That premium design includes Ford's familial, trapezoidal grille and Fusion-esque headlights in front, while the rear end reminds us of the last-generation Focus Coupe. While that car wasn't exactly attractive, the chopped off tail looks pretty nice on this smaller car. And if you really don't like the looks of the Figo Concept, just remember - it looks better than the current production model. Aerodynamically, the Figo's shape is quite slippery, which means reduced wind noise and improved fuel economy.
As for the "smart solutions" touted by Galhotra, the narrow confines of Indian streets make driving even the tiniest cars a challenge. To give the Figo Concept a one-up on the competition, Ford has fitted power-folding mirrors that sport a "flexible architecture," which should stand up well to bumps from cars, people or bikes. We don't have any interior images, but Ford is promising a large cabin, that includes a dock that can accommodate a phone or MP3 player, allowing either to be controlled through the car.