Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. is creating a fifth regional business unit comprised of nearly four dozen countries in the Middle East and Africa in an effort to stay ahead of the competition in one of the fastest-growing areas of the world.
The automaker for the first time Tuesday provided few financial projections for the newly created Middle East and Africa unit — headquartered in Dubai — predicting it would break even in 2014 and sell about 225,000 to 250,000 vehicles there.
“We really want to get in on the earlier stages of that development compared to some of the other regions in the world,” said Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, from the automaker’s Dearborn headquarters on Tuesday. “We expect to see tremendous growth in the years ahead.”
Through the end of 2013, countries in that region were included as part of Ford’s Asia-Pacific-Africa business unit.
Total vehicle sales in the emerging Middle East countries and in North Africa total about 3.9 million, but could grow to nearly 7 million by 2020, according to a report from Boston Consulting Group.
Ford sells about 200,000 cars and trucks annually in the Middle East and Africa and has a market share of about 5 percent. About half that volume comes from the Middle East and about 60,000 sales are in the country of South Africa. Ford is in a blitz of vehicle introductions in the region, and will average a new or refreshed model once every six weeks for the next two years.
Ford and Lincoln sales in the Middle East have already grown by 60 percent in the past four years, and Ford expects total industry sales in the Middle East and Africa to climb another 40 percent by 2020.
Countries with the largest projected sales increases include Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Iran, according to Boston Consulting Group, though Iran likely won’t play into U.S. automaker plans because of ongoing political tension. Ford says it sells vehicles in 47 of the 67 countries in the region.