Ford avoids 'depressed' Europe

2012-11-29 11:38

LOS ANGELES, California - Europe's auto market will stay "depressed" for the next few years but prospects are good for expansion in the US and Asia-Pacific, Ford's new chief operating officer said at the 2012 Los Angeles auto show.

Mark Fields, in comments echoing those of Toyota, said Ford would double its market participation in some segments in China in the next three years while the European market was at its weakest since 1994.

Fields will take up his new global executive role at the company this week.


"The industry is very, very tough right now," he added. "Our view is that the industry will stay depressed for a number of years."

To counter that perception Ford had launched a "transformation" plan including, notably, manufacturing cost-savings in Belgium and Britain, while focusing more on commercial and small utility vehicles.

"I'm very optimistic that in working our transformation plan," he continued, "we will get the business back to sustainabilility and our objective is by mid-decade to get the business in Europe back to profit."

Longer-term, Ford hopes to get operating margins in Europe of six to eight percent.

For North America, Fields was cautiously optimistic, as the US economy recovers from the global depression.

"Do I think we're going to go back to the days of 18-million units any time soon? No. But when you look at the components that drive demand, I think it bodes well for continued growth."


In the Asia-Pacific region, he said, Ford hoped to start seeing returns on its investments in facilities and products.

"We're starting to see some very good early signs of that right now. In third-quarter Asia-Pacific we had a record market share, about 3.1%, in China we had a record market share of 3.6%. With the growth of the products that we have in China we will double our market participation in segments in China by 2015."

Japanese car giant Toyota's US boss Jim Lentz, echoed Fields' optimism that the US economic recovery would drive industry growth.

"Fuelled by these positive economic trends, the auto industry is gaining momentum," he said.

The 2012 LA Auto Show will open to the public on Nov 30 and run until Dec 9.