Ford Motor Co.’s European arm likely lost some market share last year, but a company executive said the worst of Europe’s precipitous sales decline is behind them.
Ford’s European market share in 2013 will likely be about 7.8 versus 7.9 in 2012, said Stephen Odell, CEO of Ford of Europe, in a telephone interview. Full year industry data will be published by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association on Thursday.
Odell said he expects full-year industry sales to total about 13.7 million. Prior to the recent recession, annual sales had totaled more than 16 million. For 2014, Ford is projecting industry sales to come in between 13.5 and 14.5 million.
Odell expects a “modest recovery,” and said the rate of sales acceleration will depend more on improving unemployment numbers than the already rising rate of consumer confidence.
“The first quarter this year will give us a good feel for the trajectory of recovery,” Odell said.
Ford last year was plagued by supply constraints of its Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy vehicles built at its Genk, Belgium, plant because of protests over the plant’s pending closure. The plant is one of three that will be closed in Europe as part of Ford’s 2012 plan to reduce overall manufacturing capacity in the region by nearly 20 percent.
Ford's European restructuring plan is nearly identical to the one executed in the States: slash thousands of jobs, cut a good deal of vehicle production, and inundate the market with new and refreshed vehicles. The turnaround of Ford's North American operations is the defining moment of Alan Mulally's seven year tenure as the automaker's CEO.
European sales of Ford vehicles to consumers rose 14 percent last year and commercial vehicle sales jumped 6 percent, Odell said. Sales for daily rental and dealer show purposes fell pretty substantially. Overall sales fell about 2.1 percent last year to 1.08 million vehicles. Retail share improved the last 11 months of 2013.
“We always knew in the first quarter we’d be a little challenged,” Odell said. “But once the new products started to launch, we were able to catch back up.”