NEW YORK (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. plans to team up with a Russian automaker to make and distribute cars in the country. The announcement came shortly after Italian automaker Fiat SpA backed out of a potential partnership with the same Russian company.
Fiat and Russian automaker Sollers said in a joint statement that they would "pursue independent strategies." The two companies had signed a memorandum of understanding last year to produce up to 500,000 vehicles a year in Russia in a bid to become the country's second-largest car maker. Fiat owns U.S. automaker Chrysler.
Shortly after the Fiat announcement, Ford and Sollers disclosed they had signed a memorandum of understanding. The companies said they will have equal stakes in their Russian joint venture called Ford Sollers.
Local plants in the St. Petersburg region and the Republic of Tatarstan will make Ford passenger cars and light commercial vehicles as well as engines. The venture will also run a stamping facility that will provide local parts for Ford vehicles made in Russia, create research and development activities and import and distribute Ford products, parts and accessories in Russia.
The joint venture, which is expected to start operations by year's end, will help strengthen Russia's auto industry and its local supply base, Stephen Odell, Chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe, said in the statement.
Ford, based in Dearborn, Mich., began making cars in Russia in 2002.
Ford's stock gained 13 cents to $16.10 in premarket trading on Friday.