Interview with Henrik Nenzen

Henrik Nenzen, President of Ford Russia and CIS, shared the company's plans in the country and his views of the Russian automotive industry’s prospects, following the Mondeo model launch in Russia, on Thursday.

Russia Today: How are foreign car makers faring in the competition with domestic producers?

H.N.: Last year was the first year when foreign cars were sold in bigger volume – last year much bigger volume – almost 60% of cars were non-Russian brands. And when the standard of income goes up, this will increase. This year, it's even higher during the first half of the year. So, this trend continues, and it means that Russians will also buy larger cars, and that's where the Mondeo fits in.

RT: This week, Ford has announced that it'll invest $US 100 MLN dollars in Russia. What's the time-frame for this investment and where will it all go?

H.N.: We hope to start during the end of next year. We are just doing some negotiations with the government on the start-up and permissions, and then we’ll get started. It will all come in at our present plant in Vsevolzhsk [near St. Petersbourg]. We were the first-ever foreign company to open a manufacturing plant on Russian land. We opened it in July 2002. Now, when competitors start to build their plants, Ford moves into Phase Two – building the Mondeo locally, and increasing total capacity.

RT: What will the impact be for Ford, when Russia joins the World Trade Organisation and the present system of subsiding car part imports is stopped?

H.N.: Local production will still be very attractive because you have lower labour cost in Russia. You have lower components cost, especially if they can get the components industry to also develop quickly. I think that will happen. I'm very optimistic that we will have a strong Russian automotive industry – including foreign and Russian brands, producing a lot of cars at a very high quality.

RT: The Russian government is keen to stimulate the domestic car industry. Does this work against foreign manufacturers in any way?

H.N.: I don't think they have particularly supported Russian producers. They have made terms equal for everyone, whether you are a Russian or a foreign brand. I'm convinced that Russia one day will be the largest car market in Europe. A lot of people abroad doubt this, but I am in no doubt. Sometimes I get the question – when? And I think 2012.