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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Ford's European sales rise 1.8%

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Ford's European sales rise 1.8%

Automaker's total sales in the region drop 3.3%, but it sees consistent gains in U.S.

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. posted a modest 1.8 percent sales increase in its main European markets last month, but saw total sales in the 51-country region fall by 3.3 percent.

Ford said it has lost three-tenths of a point of market share in its 19 largest European markets.

That is a contrast to the United States, where Ford consistently has gained market share over the past year, ending a decline that began in 2005.

Ford of Europe's head of sales and marketing, Ingvar Sviggum, attributed the decline to increased incentives by competitors. He said a small gain in the most critical markets offered some solace.

"It's great to see that there's still very strong demand for our latest products, and that our market share was pretty stable in February despite aggressive discounting by some of our competitors," he said.

Sviggum said Ford was trying to remain disciplined about incentives and discounting.

"We understand the need to be competitive in the market, but we will not engage in actions that jeopardize the sustainability of our business or that devalue our brand," he said. "Such strategies are self-defeating in the longer term. Our aim is to create a strong business, which provides our customers with great products at an affordable price."

Sviggum said Ford expects to see further declines as government incentive programs end across the region.

"We've increased the number of vehicles we were intending to build in the first quarter by 20,000 units, though we still expect some decline in the European market during the course of the year as scrappage schemes are phased out."

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100316/AUTO01/3160343/1148/auto01/Ford-s-European-sales-rise-1.8-#ixzz0iLHgRGVJ

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