PARIS - Ford France is splitting into three business units. They will be grouped under a new holding company called Groupe Ford France.
One unit distributes cars. One makes transmissions. The third is a plastic injection molder making interior parts.
This new organization was set up by Claude Brunet, one year after he was appointed chairman of Ford France. He has two goals.
First, 'Ford France wants to appear as a FF20 billion ($3.4 billion) automotive group, the third one in France after PSA and Renault,' said Brunet.
Second, Ford wants the Charleville-Mezieres components plant in northeastern France to develop new customers outside Ford.
Groupe Ford France will begin publishing an annual report on its activities.
Ford France Automobiles, which imports and distributes Ford, Jaguar and Aston Martin cars, is the largest component of Groupe Ford France. It accounts for two thirds of the FF20.4 billion sales in 1996.
Ford sold 163,700 passenger cars, including Jaguars and Aston Martins, and 21,500 light commercial vehicles last year in France. It is the leading non-French brand, with a 7.7 percent market share last year.
The two other parts are Ford Aquitaine Industries and Ford Ardennes Industrie. Each has one plant. Ford Aquitaine has 3,500 employees and FF4.7 billion in sales. Located near Bordeaux in northwest France, it manufactured last year a record 1,352,000 gearboxes, including 532,000 automatic transmissions, 40,000 CVTs and 820,000 manual transmissions.
Ford plans to invest FF1.5 billion in Bordeaux over three years to expand capacity. A new extension will be opened in the second part of 1998.