Ford Motor Co. says its Chinese joint venture, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, will build a new, flexible, car-assembly plant in Chongqing, China, scheduled for completion in 2012.

Ford and partners Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. and Japan's Mazda Motor Corp. are investing RMB3.34 billion ($490 million) in the facility, which initially will be capable of producing 150,000 vehicles a year, boosting total production capacity of CFMA’s operations to 600,000 units annually.

The plant, Ford’s second in Chongqing and third in China under its CFMA JV, will produce a “diversified range of product in the future,” the Detroit auto maker says.

First to launch will be Ford’s next-generation Focus, based on its global C-segment platform, output of which will get under way in 2012. The architecture ultimately will underpin up to 10 unique models for sale around the globe, Ford says.

The investment signals the importance of the Chinese market to Ford, CEO Alan Mulally says in a statement.

“Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to the further expansion of our China operations to meet the continued rise in demand from Chinese consumers for world-class Ford products and services,” he says.

The 10.7 million-sq.-ft. (1-million-sq.-m) plant will support stamping, body assembly, trim, paint and final assembly operations.

Ford says it also plans to introduce its direct-injected turbocharged EcoBoost engine technology to China next year.