VIENNA – Volume output of Ford’s all-new B-Max multipurpose vehicle begins at its Craiova, Romania, plant this week after several years of postponement.

The all-new B-Max, which goes on sale across Europe later this year, will be built exclusively at the Craiova facility, making the MPV the first Ford car to be fully produced in Romania.

Up to now, the Craiova plant has assembled Ford Transit Connect vans with parts sourced from Turkey.

“Volume vehicle and engine production at Craiova brings a new level of sophisticated manufacturing to Eastern Europe,” John Fleming, Ford’s executive vice president-Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs, says in a statement.

“Craiova is today one of the most competitive and modern production sites in Ford’s global manufacturing footprint and, indeed, in the global auto industry as a whole, with cutting-edge facilities like its class-leading paint shop.”

Ford has spent more than €500 million ($650 million) to modernize and upgrade the car plant. In total, it is investing more than €675 million ($875 million) in the Craiova engine- and vehicle-manufacturing complex.

Plans call for the production of 60,000 cars this year and 105,000 units in 2013, Ford Romania President Jan Gijsen told local media earlier this year. The auto maker plans to produce a second Ford model in Romania as well.

B-Max production follows the start of volume output of Ford’s 1.0L 3-cyl. EcoBoost gasoline engine. The auto maker confirms it will add a 1.5L gas engine at the plant early next year. No further details concerning the engine have been released.

Ford employs about 3,750 workers at the Craiova complex. The plant initially produced cars under the Olcit and Citroen brands starting in 1981, when it was a run by a joint venture between Romania’s Communist government (51%) and France’s Automobiles Citroen (49%).

After the phaseout of Citroen in the early 1990s, the cars were rebadged Oltenas. South Korea’s Daewoo Motors took over control of the factory in 1994, which continued to build Daewoo-badged cars even after the auto maker's collapase in 2008.

Ford took over the Craiova plant in March 2008 and launched assembly of the Transit Connect from semi-knocked-down kits in September 2009.

However, the auto maker had to postpone the production of the all-new B-Max in Romania, as well as engine output, until this year because of the global economic downturn.