Thursday, January 21, 2010

EIB lends Ford Romania euro400 million to upgrade plant, develop low-;

BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Investment Bank on Thursday granted Ford Romania SA euro400 million ($563 million) to make 600,000 environmentally-friendly cars and engines a year.

It also granted Ford euro200 million for research into the small cars it will make at the Craiova plant in southwestern Romania. The research funding will benefit Ford facilities in Germany.

The EIB said the Craiova plant will make "a new small, advanced-technology petrol engine with low fuel consumption."

Ford bought the plant from the Romanian government in 2008. The company makes light vans there and is expected to start making the new B-Max, similar to the subcompact Fiesta, at the plant this year.

Once fully in use, the plant will employ 7,000 people and make up to 300,000 cars and 300,000 engines a year up to EU safety and carbon-dioxide emission standards.

EIB Vice President Matthias Kollatz Ahnen said in a statement the loans will help Romania weather the economic crisis and contribute to the production of greener cars.

The loan comes at time of deep crisis for Europe's car makers.

The Luxembourg-based EIB is the European Union's long-term financing arm for economic development projects.

It issues grants and soft loans. Last year it made Europe's ailing car sector a priority area, granting it a total of euro8.2 billion ($11.5 billion).

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