Ford Venezuela launches Ranger

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CARACAS -- Ford Motor Company has launched its Ranger pickup in Venezuela in the hope that the vehicle will repeat its U.S. success. At the same time the carmaker has announced a new strategic alliance with Mazda whereby the Japanese company will begin assembly of the Ranger in Colombia towards the end of the first quarter of 1999, while the Ford plant in Valencia, Venezuela, will start assembling a similar Mazda pickup in an overall plan to save costs and make more effective assembly lines for the two companies in Andean Pact countries.

At the end of next year, the allies will also kick off production of two similar mid-sized cars, the Mazda Allegro and the Ford Laser, under the same terms: Mazda will turn out the Laser in Colombia and Ford will produce the Allegro in Venezuela.

The plan entails a total $40 million investment in the Ford Venezuela and Mazda Colombia plants.

Ford Motor Company owns 38% of Mazda and, for a number of models, the carmakers share common platform designs. Each company will, however, continue to be responsible for commercialization of its own brands in all countries.

According to Ford Venezuela President Emmanuel Cassingena, Ford should end 1998 with 8,000 vehicles sold in Colombia, with chief exports including the F-150 pickup, the F-350 truck, the Explorer utility and the compact Fiesta.

Mazda, meanwhile, has sold 1,018 vehicles to date in Venezuela this year. But with the new alliance, says Cassingena, "both companies have an excellent opportunity to grow."

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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