MEXICO CITY – Ford Motor Company said the new Ford Fiesta small car for North America will be produced at the company's transformed Cuautitlán Assembly Plant beginning in early 2010 and a sporty European hatchback model is being added to the North American lineup alongside the popular sedan.

Transformation of the facility near Mexico City begins this year, as the plant is converted from its current production of F-Series pickups for the Mexican market to small cars for all of North America. The Chihuahua Engine Plant, which builds I-4 engines, also will assemble diesel engines for light- and medium-duty trucks in a variety of global markets. In addition, through a joint venture with Getrag (GFT), Ford will establish a new transmission plant in Guanajuato to support various Ford products. Company officials announced the trio of investments jointly with Mexico President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

The new multi-plant development effort represents a $3 billion U.S. investment, including the support of local suppliers. It is Mexico's largest ever automotive investment. The moves are expected to create approximately 4,500 Ford jobs. Together with all direct and indirect employment at suppliers, the moves affect 30,000 jobs in Mexico.

"Ford is absolutely committed to leveraging our global assets to accelerate the shift to more fuel-efficient small cars and powertrain technologies that people really want and value," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "Our investments in these facilities in Mexico are part of our plan to further realign our manufacturing capacity in line with the introduction of more small cars and crossovers."

A small car concept called the Verve showcased the design direction for the new Fiesta when it debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. Both sedan and hatchback models were displayed.

The Fiesta is the first of Ford's new global family of small cars set to debut in Europe and Asia later this year and next year — and in North America early in 2010.

The total investment is expected to increase Ford of Mexico's annual production to nearly 500,000 vehicles and 330,000 engines by 2012, with nearly 80 percent of the vehicles and most of the engines slated for the North American market.

Today, Cuautitlán Assembly Plant makes trucks for the Mexican market, ranging from the Ford F-150 to the F-550. To meet future demand, trucks for Mexico will be imported from the United States, making room for a new generation of small cars that are stylish and fun to drive.

Ford also has stamping and assembly plants in Hermosillo, Sonora, where the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln MKZ sedans are built. These mid-size cars are sold throughout North America as well as Venezuela and Brazil and have won numerous quality awards.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet