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Ford’s Europe Troubles Worsen

Sales slide accelerates – but automaker isn't alone.

by on Aug.16, 2012

Even the launch of new products, such as the Kuga, hasn't offset Ford's European sales slide.

With its 2012 losses already forecast to approach the $1 billion mark, the situation in Europe continues to get worse for Ford Motor Co.

The Detroit maker revealed its July sales in 19 key European countries slipped to their lowest level in 17 years – with demand for the first seven months of 2012 off by 12.3%.  That was significantly worse than the overall 7.1% market dip for the calendar-year-to-date, suggesting Ford’s earlier projections might not be dire enough.

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“Overall industry sales remain very weak across much of Europe given the economic environment,” warned Ford European sales chief Roelant de Waard.


Lewis Booth: From Bean-Counter to Car Czar?

Can former Ford exec help steer Europe’s troubled auto industry?

by on Jul.20, 2012

Former CFO Lewis Booth helped put together Ford's successful turnaround plan.

As one of the architects of Ford Motor Co.’s successful effort to survive the deep U.S. recession without a federal bailout, former Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth demonstrated his turnaround skills.  But can the now-retired Ford exec pull that magic off on a continental scale?

That’s something being proposed by the giant bank Credit Suisse, which suggests that bean-counter Booth would make an excellent European car czar, a role that would be modeled after the job that Steven Rattner held during the bail-outs of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009 and ’10.

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The European auto industry certainly could use the help.  Sales have plunged to levels last seen during the depths of the recession and few believe the market has yet bottomed out, what with countries like Spain, Greece and Ireland facing deep austerity programs as they struggle to fix their own financial problems.


Europe Continues Deteriorating for Ford

But there is a small silver lining.

by on Jul.18, 2012

The Ford Focus ST has helped provide a bit of adrenaline in an otherwise bleak environment.

With the European market already in the start of a potential freefall, Ford Motor Company has already warned that its overseas operations could generate significant losses in the months ahead.  But if recent numbers are any indication, the situation could prove worse than the maker’s already dire forecast.

Ford reports its European sales fell 10% in the first half of year as auto sales across Europe plunged to their lowest levels in nearly two decades. Last month, Ford had warned that its European subsidiary would post a loss for the second quarter because of the market downturn.

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“The economic environment remains very difficult, obviously, and we are balancing the need to be price competitive, while remaining committed to improving net pricing, building brand strength and protecting residual values,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Services, Ford of Europe.

The news isn’t entirely bleak.  Overall, Ford still was the second best-selling brand in Europe for the first half of 2012 counting (total vehicle sales in 19 European countries). Ford retained market leadership in the UK, Turkey and Hungary in both June and for the first half of the year.

Through June, Ford has sold 617,600 new vehicles in its traditional 19 markets, resulting in an 8.1% market share. In June, Ford’s sales decreased by 16.1% to 100,400 units, with a market share of 7.3%.

“In the second half the year,” De Waard said, “we have the opportunity to gain momentum with the launch of some very exciting new products, such as the all-new B-MAX, a new Fiesta and the new Transit Custom.”

He added the 1-liter EcoBoost engine, which has exceeded sales expectations since launching in the compact Ford Focus earlier this year, will soon be offered in the B-MAX, C-MAX and other vehicles.

The UK remained Ford’s largest European market in the first six months of the year, with sales of 183,900 units, up by 1.2 per cent over the same period last year. Ford market share was 15.3%.

Ford has retained leadership in car sales in the UK for the past 35 successive years, and been the best-selling commercial vehicle brand for the past 46 consecutive years.

Ford sales in Russia and Eastern Europe were also up in the first six months of the year. In Russia, Ford sales rose 18.3% to 63,400, while market share increased by 0.1 percentage points to 4.3%. In Eastern Europe, Ford’s sales rose by 14.7% to 25,900 year-to-date.

When all 51 markets in the European region are rolled in, the Ford sales volume was 759,800 vehicles, down 8.9% on the first half 2011.

European Car Market’s Collapse Leaves Industry in “Doo-Doo”

“The stench is overwhelming,” says Marchionne.

by on Jul.02, 2012

Fiat CEO Marchionne: "The stench is overwhelming."

While automakers expect to report a double-digit gain in U.S. sales for June, the situation continues to worsen in Europe where demand fell sharply in key markets including France, Italy and Spain – and where even Germany is expected to see a dip for the month.

Several key makers, including both Ford and General Motors, have warned they will show deep losses for the second quarter on their European operations and most of the rest of the industry isn’t likely to do much better.

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“We’re standing in doo-doo,” Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters in Turin.  “Whether you’re in an inch of it or three inches doesn’t matter.  The stench is still overwhelming.”


Overseas Operations Weakening, GM, Ford Heading for Big International Losses

Ford sees $500 million loss abroad, GM $1 billion in Europe.

by on Jun.29, 2012

Ford CEO Alan Mulally -- the maker now anticipates big losses overseas.

An economic meltdown in Europe, a slowdown in China, weakening currency and new trade barriers in South America. The situation is getting bad for the auto industry, and both General  Motors and Ford, in particular.

The smaller of the Detroit makers now anticipates overseas losses to reach $500 million for the second quarter, a heavy anchor on earnings from the recovering North American market.  GM, meanwhile, expects the red ink from its long-troubled European operations to reach around $1 billion.

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Noting its “operations outside of North America are under increasing pressure,” Ford warned in an SEC filing that “Our combined results for the second quarter for Ford South America, Ford Europe, and Ford Asia Pacific Africa could be a loss of about three times as much as the $190 million pretax loss incurred by these operations in the first quarter.”