Ford Motor Slowly Recovering Share in Europe

With GM’s Opel in disarray, Ford is gaining ground.

by on Oct.13, 2009

With one of is principal competitors, Opel-Vauxhall, in the midst of a corporate transformation, Ford of Europe increased market share to 10.1% in September; its best share for any month since September 2001. It is now the number two automaker in Europe.

It remains unclear if the company, which posted record losses in 2008, is returning to profitable operations since Ford has not changed its guidance to analysts during its second quarter earning results press conference, which said it would continue to lose money this year.

Still, year-to-date Ford’s share in the so called Euro 19 markets is just over 9% — the best performance in a decade.

Volkswagen by far remains the dominate producer in Europe. VW Group was in the black during Q2 to the surprise of some analysts. This  positive result came from strong performances by the VW brand in Brazil (+7%) and China (+23 %), now VW’s largest market. Financial results were also good for the first half of 2009 as the Group made a €1.2 billion operating profit. VW’s global market share is now 12%, which makes it number two in a close race with Toyota.

Overall, Ford of Europe sold 152,600 new vehicles in its 19 main markets in September, a gain of 12.3% over the same month a year ago, and better than the industry increase of 2.9%. Ford has now reported year-over-year sales gains for four months in a row, and small market share increases for nine consecutive months.

The Euro 19 markets are: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Ford reports sales for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania through its Finnish National Sales Company, so sales data for the Baltic States is included within Euro 19.

The fragmented nature of European car markets and selected use of data makes timely direct comparisons  among competitors difficult.

The new sub-compact Fiesta contributed to the strong results, with sales of 51,400 units registered in Europe last month – the best September for Fiesta since 1994.

“Traditionally we expect Ford to have a good month in September given the surge of new car sales in the U.K. due to the registration plate change. But September 2009 has surpassed expectations,” said Ingvar Sviggum, Ford of Europe’s vice president for marketing, sales and service.

“Market share and volume success are only valuable if they are achieved through high quality sales that generate good revenue, and we certainly saw that in September with retail sales accounting for 60% percent of Ford passenger car sales,” said Sviggum.

Sviggum said Ford remains concerned about the fragility of the underlying market in Europe. “With the sudden ending of some scrappage schemes and the more-controlled phasing out of others, the industry faces an uncertain future in terms of market demand as 2010 approaches. It is clear that there is still a need for government intervention in Europe to help bolster the market until demand reaches a more sustainable level,” he said.

In the first nine months of 2009, Ford of Europe registered 1,097,100 vehicles in these 19 European markets, a reduction of 51,100 units or 4.5% than in the same period in 2008. This compares with a total industry decline of 9.7%. Year-to-date across its 51 markets, Ford of Europe sold 1,243,700 vehicles, a decrease of 172,000 units, or 12.2% fewer than in the same period in 2008.

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