Ford Motor Co., which built 1.6 million cars and trucks in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, may sign a major car deal with the Kremlin next year.
If all goes as anticipated, Ford will sell a substantial number of expensive, European-made Fords to the Soviets, then a few years later help them build the cars in Russia's most famous automobile manufacturing plant.The car being considered for sale - the one sought by the Soviets - is the Scorpio, a four-door sedan manufactured by Mercury's Merkur division in Cologne, West Germany. The car, one of the largest produced in Western Europe, sells for $28,000 and is the same size as Ford's Mercury Sable and a bit smaller than the company's Lincoln Continental.
Just who will be able to afford the car is a question that Ford officials could not answer because they don't know how much it will sell for in Russia. The latest available statistics show only 11.7 million cars are registered in the Soviet Union, a nation of 277 million people.
Ford's negotiations with the Soviets are being handled by a consortium of six large American corporations, all trying to develop Russian markets. The Soviets requested the negotiations after Mikhail Gorbachev announced his new perestroika policy, that is, a restructuring of his country's economic system.
The other American companies are RJR Nabisco, which wants to sell crackers, cereals and cigarettes to the Soviets; Eastman-Kodak, which wants to build plants to manufacture computer discs and blood analyzers.