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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Ford sales decline again in Europe

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Ford sales decline again in Europe

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. today reported its second consecutive monthly sales decline in Europe as the end of government-backed scrappage programs continued to undermine the industry there.

Ford sold 105,500 vehicles in its 19 major European markets last month -- 17,100 fewer than it sold in May 2009. Its share fell to 8.2 percent, a loss of 0.7 percentage points from a year ago.

Still, Ford remains Europe's second best-selling passenger car brand and the leader in Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland and Turkey.

Ingvar Sviggum, vice president of marketing, sales and service at Ford of Europe, said Ford continues to hold the line on incentives, too, despite increasing pressure from rival manufacturers.

"We've long been prepared for the slowdown in the market and are not surprised that many of our competitors continue to react with the tactic of heavy discounting, which we believe is ultimately unsustainable and damages the brand," he said. "Our primary focus at Ford is to improve our profitability -- and we successfully achieved this in the first quarter of the year."

The Ford Fiesta was the company's top seller in Europe. It has sold 204,000 Fiestas in Europe this year, up 4.9 percent from the same period a year ago.

The company still expects total industry sales of between 14 million and 15 million vehicles in 2010, down from 15.9 million in 2009.

"In the face of such difficult market conditions, we have put in place a simple, consistent and effective plan," Sviggum said.

"We will grow our volume and share where it makes good business sense to do so, such as in Turkey. We will reduce in a controlled way our share and volume in the areas of our business that are less profitable.

"We will improve our margins and protect the resale value of our products; and we will continue to provide our customers with the best possible new vehicles and technologies. This is how we will continue to improve our profitability and strengthen the Ford brand."

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100614/AUTO01/6140372/1148/auto01/Ford-sales-decline-again-in-Europe#ixzz0qptHYdSm

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