Ford expects new models, stabilizing markets to sustain European sales growth

Ford's European sales were boosted by a 14 percent gain for the Fiesta subcompact.
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COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) -- Ford Motor Co. is counting on new models and stabilizing markets to boost its European sales this year, after the automaker's deliveries in the region rose 7 percent in April on growing demand in the UK, France and Spain.

Deliveries in Ford's main 20 European markets rose to 99,700 vehicles last month from 93,500 a year earlier, according to Ford sales data.

The improvement outpaced total industry growth of 4 percent in Europe, and boosted Ford’s market share up by 0.2 of a percentage point to 7.9 per cent, Ford said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company's European sales were powered by a 14 percent gain for the Fiesta subcompact model, as well as improved demand for the Kuga compact SUV and the Tourneo Connect van.

Ford is in the middle of a busy product cycle in which it aims to introduce 25 new or replacement models in Europe over the next five years.

Ford's European sales chief Roelant de Waard said sales in western Europe are starting to improve modestly. "From now on we'll see steady growth. At the same time, we continue to focus on sales to retail and fleet customer, which are healthiest for our brand and resale values."

The company delivered 31,100 vehicles last month in the UK, its top European market, up 12 percent. Deliveries in Germany, Ford's No. 2 market in Europe, remained flat at 21,600 vehicles. Sales in Spain, Ford's fifth-biggest European market, jumped by 41 percent.

Ford's four-month sales were up 10 percent at 397,600 units.

Europe has dragged on Ford's profit for several years, but it more than halved losses in the region in the first quarter to $194 million from $425 million last year.

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