MUNICH -- Ford of Europe will add almost 500 full-time employees at its plant in Saarlouis, Germany, ahead of the start of production for the next-generation Ford Focus.
The workers, who are currently on temporary contracts, will be offered permanent Ford contracts starting in the middle of this month, the automaker announced on Friday, adding that production of the new Focus begins Dec. 6.
The Saarlouis plant, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, will be the single source for next-generation Ford Focus production in western Europe. The plant will assemble all three Focus bodystyles (four door, five door and wagon).
Ford's Saarlouis plant employs more than 6,500 people while another 2,000 people work at an adjacent car-parts supplier park, making the entire industrial complex the largest employer in the German state of Saarland.
Ford will produce the new Focus four- and five-door variants for North America at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.
Ford will add output of the new Focus four- and five-door models at its plant in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the middle of next year. Production of the car in the Asia-Pacific region will begin at Ford's plant in Chongqing, China, in early 2012.
Ford says 80 percent of the components and manufacturing processes used to build the European version of the Focus will be common with other Focus models sold and assembled globally.
Developed in Europe for sale in more than 120 markets worldwide, the new Focus is a key part of the automaker's One Ford plan to leverage the its global assets.
The Focus is underpinned by Ford's new global C-segment platform, which will account for more than 2 million units of annual production by 2012, the company says.