Photo courtesy of Ford.

Photo courtesy of Ford.

Ford is investing more than $870 million to build the next-generation Kuga mid-size SUV in Valencia, Spain.

Since 2011, Ford has invested about $3.5 billion in the Vehicle Operations and Engine Plant, according to the automaker.

“This major investment of more than $870 million reconfirms in the clearest way our continuing commitment to the Valencia region and to Spain as one of our most important manufacturing locations in Europe,” said Steven Armstrong, president and CEO, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Approximately 90% of Valencia’s vehicle production is exported to more than 75 countries worldwide, including the United States, Ford said in a release.

Employing more than 8,000 people across all of its operations, the new investment will help to secure employment at Ford’s Valencia site. 

Today, around 25% of all new passenger vehicles sold in Europe are SUVs, Ford said in a release. Kuga accounts for close to 50% of Valencia’s vehicle production volume. European sales of Kuga so far this year at 126,900 are an improvement of 22% compared with the same period in 2016. Kuga is Ford’s third top-selling nameplate in Europe behind the Fiesta and Focus.

Earlier this year, Ford South Africa recalled Kuga SUVs produced from December 2012 to February 2014 due to reported engine fires. In September, Ford launched an updated Kuga SUV to the South Africa market that contained new connectivity features, a lower price, and an updated look.