Ford Motor Co. today begins volume production of the European version of the Fiesta B-car at its assembly plant in Cologne, Germany.

The auto maker plans to produce 148,000 Fiestas in Cologne during the remainder of this year. The plant will operate on three shifts, producing some 1,900 Fiestas and Fusions per day, Ford says, noting it invested €455 million ($677 million) to restructure and modernize the facility for Fiesta production.

In a taped message to Cologne workers, Ford CEO Alan Mulally heralded the launch of the Fiesta, which is to be rolled out across the world in the coming years as the auto maker works to better leverage its global resources.

“The first product of our global product development system, the all-new Fiesta is an outstanding symbol for our ‘One Ford’ vision of a single, global company designing and building cars for customers around the world,” Mulally says. “Be proud of what you have achieved and be proud of your contribution to a model that will get the world talking.”

Further European capacity for the Fiesta will be added in January 2009, when production begins at Ford’s Valencia, Spain, assembly plant.

The production facilities for the Fiesta outside of Europe will be Nanjing, China; Rayong, Thailand; and Cuautitlan, Mexico. Those plants will begin producing the car for their respective regions between late 2008 and early 2010, Ford says.

Fiestas for sale in North America will be sourced from Cuautitlan.