MUNICH – Ford Motor Co. said it strengthened its position as Europe's No. 2 brand last year but warned that 2010 will be difficult with a significant decline in total market sales.
Ford said it was Europe's second-biggest brand by unit sales in 2009 with a 9.1 per cent market share in its 19 main European markets, a 0.5 percentage points increase on the previous year.
Volkswagen AG with 3.28 million sales in Europe last year is the region's top-selling automaker.
Ford's result was the company's the best European annual market share in its main 19 regional markets since 1998, the company said.
"This is a great performance in a very difficult year for the European auto industry," said John Fleming, Ford of Europe CEO, in a statement.
He warned: "2010 will be another tough year for the European auto industry, especially given the ending and phase-out of some of the key scrappage schemes in Western Europe.”
Fleming said European new-car sales could be in the 13.5 to 14.5 million range in 2010, an “appreciable decline” on the 15.7 million total of last year.
Ford's European sales were boosted last year by new products such as the Fiesta and Ka and scrappage incentives in major markets such as Germany, France, Italy and the UK.
In December, Ford's sales in its 51 European markets including Russia and Turkey increased 16.7 percent to 134,300. For the whole of 2009, the carmaker's sales fell 7.1 percent to 1.65 million in those markets.
Ford's sales in its 19 main European markets, including key western European countries, increased 25.3 percent for the seventh consecutive month in December to 108,500 and were up 0.2 percent to 1.44 million for the full year.
Ford said sales volume in the 19 countries was the highest December volume for Ford since 1997.
Ford of Europe's sales and marketing chief, Ingvar Sviggum, said: "While our revenue was down compared to 2008 due to the difficult market conditions, our share improvement and quality of sales were a significant positive offset."
Sviggum said 61 percent of the company's new-car sales were to retail customers in 2009, up from 48 percent in 2008.