DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it has begun production of its new subcompact Fiesta at a plant in Germany.
The vehicle is the first product to come out of Ford's new global development process, which aims to produce global models that are tailored to regional tastes but have the same underpinnings. It's slated to go on sale in stages between now and 2010, starting in Europe.
The Cologne Stamping and Assembly plant is the first Ford assembly facility to build the new car, with production at Ford's Valencia assembly plant in Spain set begin in January.
Asian production is scheduled to begin later this year in China and Thailand, Ford said.
Ford's Cuautitlan assembly plant in Mexico, which previously made F-Series trucks, is being retooled to build hatchback and sedan models of the Fiesta for the North American market beginning in 2010.
The Fiesta is one of six new models Ford plans to bring to North America from Europe in the coming years, as part of efforts to cut costs and boost its North American car lineup.
Last month, Ford announced plans to retool two U.S. truck factories in Michigan and Kentucky to make global vehicles off the European Focus platform.
The automaker said it expects to manufacture 148,000 Fiestas in the Cologne facility this year. When at full capacity, the plant is expected to produce 1,900 Fiesta and Fusion vehicle per day, Ford said.
Since it was first launched in 1976, Ford said it has sold more than 12 million Fiestas.