FORD HAS temporarily halted production of Ford Transits and Escorts at its plant in Obchuk, Belarus, due to the Russian economic crisis. The factory's 150 employees will continue reporting to work and will spend their time in training and maintenance activities, according to Ford spokesman Don Hume.
Ford Union's plant, a joint venture between Ford and the Belarussian government, opened in 1997.
Neil Campbell, director of operations, said Ford had planned to cut vehicle production at the plant anyway in response to slow sales, but once the economic crisis hit, sales dried up altogether.
The Belarus government owns 26 percent of Ford Union. A further 23 percent is owned by Aleksei Vaganov, an entrepreneur who began importing Fords into Belarus after the fall of the Soviet Union. Vaganov had approached Ford and the Belarus government about using an old truck factory to assemble cars. Ford holds the majority stake.
Gordon Feller contributed