Ford of Europe eyes higher 2014 sales on new models, market upturn

The EcoSport, pictured, is a key model in Ford's plan to increase sales in Europe.
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BERLIN (Reuters) -- Ford Motor Co. is counting on new models and a stabilizing European car market to increase sales in the region this year, after shrinking demand inflicted a small drop in 2013 deliveries.

A 20 percent surge in December sales in Ford's 19 main European markets, including all major countries plus the Baltic states, limited the annual decline to 2 percent or 1.08 million autos, Ford of Europe said today.

"We are determined to build upon the solid foundation we've built in 2013," Ford of Europe sales chief Roelant de Waard said in a statement.

Ford plans to launch at least seven new vehicles in Europe this year, including the Indian-built EcoSport small SUV, the new-ganeration Mondeo mid-sized car and a new Transit van.

New or revamped vehicles accounted for over 40 percent of Ford's European sales last year, the carmaker's regional chief, Stephen Odell, said. Ford has raised to 25 from 15 the number of new models it aims to introduce in Europe over the next five years.

Industrywide sales rise

New-car sales in Ford's 19 main European markets may rise almost 6 percent this year, driven by customers replacing aging vehicles, Odell said on Monday. Ford predicts industrywide deliveries in the region may jump to as many as 14.5 million in 2014 from about 13.7 million in 2013, Odell said.

Ford's share of Europe's five biggest markets -- Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain -- rose one percentage point last year to 8.2 percent, the company said.

The carmaker predicted last October that its European business would post a smaller pretax loss in 2013 than the $1.75 billion deficit recorded in 2012 -- a marked improvement on the $2 billion loss forecast in January 2013.

Ford will publish 2013 earnings on Jan. 28.

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