Production of Ford Motor Company's globally popular small car, the Ford Fiesta, kicked off during an official ceremony at AutoAlliance Thailand's (AAT) new, state-of-the-art passenger car manufacturing facility in Rayong, Thailand.

Ford executives Raj Nair, vice president, Operations, Asia Pacific and Africa, and Peter Fleet, president, ASEAN, drove a pair of the first Thai-built Fiestas - a Highlight Silver four-door sedan and Chili Orange five-door hatchback - off the line to mark the official start of production.

Volume production is scheduled to ramp up at the Rayong plant over the coming weeks, with vehicles becoming available in the succeeding months across the ASEAN region.

"Today's celebration and start of production in Thailand marks the latest milestone in the global success story for Ford Fiesta," said Nair. "The Fiesta - which is now being built in five of Ford's global production hubs and available on five continents - is a leading example of our One Ford plan to develop vehicles that meet the needs, wants and expectations of customers around the world."

Fiesta will be built in the new 70,000 sqm., US$500 million state-of-the-art passenger car plant at AAT. The new passenger car plant utilizes the latest auto manufacturing technologies, automated systems and process, and includes a fully integrated stamping line and body shop, trim and final process area.

The paint shop uses the world-class and environmentally-friendly three-wet technology paint process, which dramatically reduces VOC and CO2 emissions and waste, and improves painting quality.

The debut of the newest Ford global compact in the ASEAN region follows a series of global introductions that started in Europe and have progressively moved around the world. Since its introduction, nearly one million Fiestas have been sold globally.

When developing the new Fiesta, Ford conducted extensive global customer research. Findings clearly indicated the need for style topped the list of customer desires everywhere in the world.

"Fiesta was developed with customers, not just for them," explained Peter Fleet. "Fuel economy, spirited performance and efficient use of space are universal desires, across global markets - and Fiesta delivers."

Designed to be versatile, personal and adaptable, Fiesta delivers best-in-class safety, convenience, and operating cost, as well as an expressive color palette. The Fiesta also features several first-in-class technologies in the ASEAN markets, such as PowerShift automatic transmission and connectivity that includes Voice Control communications with Bluetooth.

"We are absolutely confident that the Fiesta is the right car at the right time, and that consumers across ASEAN will respond with the same enthusiasm as have the nearly one million new Ford Fiesta owners around the world," explained Fleet.

Locally, the Ford Fiesta is set to delight Filipino customers seeking a stylish, safe and affordable small car in the second half of 2010. Earlier this year, Ford Group Philippines started to connect with a new generation of Ford Fiesta followers by inviting them to join their online Fiesta campaign. The digital campaign, ConnectWithFiesta, was launched via three online portals to engage a wider market of online users and fans -, and Ford Fiesta in the Philippines on Facebook.

"Ford Fiesta will mark another milestone in the growth of Ford Group Philippines as we enter the fast growing and highly competitive small car segment," says Randy Krieger, President of Ford Group Philippines.

"Since we began our Fiesta activities, especially our digital initiatives, we have been very encouraged with the level of excitement and passion our customers have shown. We are extremely excited to officially introduce the Fiesta within the next few months and welcome our customers to Feel the Difference Ford Fiesta will make in their lives, added Krieger."