Ford has completed a $2.6 billion investment in a Spanish plant that the automaker says marks the biggest investment in the country's auto industry of all time.
The Dearborn, Mich.-headquartered carmaker announced an initial investment of 1.1 billion euros in 2011 and followed up with 1.2 billion euros invested since 2013, according to a Reuters report.
The auto industry has been crucial to the recovery of Spain's economy, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said during a visit today to the Ford facility in Valencia.
Thanks to the 2.3 billion-euro investment, Ford will be able to increase production from four to six model lines and export deliveries to outside markets. One planned export will be to bring the Transit Connect compact van to the United States.
With a capacity of 450,000 vehicles per year after the expansion, the Valencia facility will be Ford's largest assembly center along with the plant in Chongqing, China.
Spain's auto industry is growing by keeping the cost of labor low and aiming to export vehicles to other markets abroad. A steep unemployment rate has made labor unions more yielding in order to protect jobs.
"With Spanish unemployment at 24 percent, unions keen to protect jobs have accepted flexible work practices and salary freezes, which together with close links to a world-class domestic car parts industry have helped attract the orders," Reuters reported.
The Ford plant in Valencia has a workforce of around 8,000, an increase from around 5,000 about two years ago.
The automaker this week announced that it will add 1,550 more workers at four facilities in the U.S. due to increased demand for the newly aluminum F-150 pickup. Ford will have to bump up hundreds of workers to higher pay since adding the new hires will exceed the automaker's quota of second-tier-paid employees, as specified by the United Auto Workers union.