Ford Motor Co.'s new Focus, which was designed in Europe for the United States and global markets, will not be a failure like the automaker's previous attempt at a world car, the Mondeo, Ford of Europe CEO John Fleming said. Fleming also said Ford brand will not launch premium cars in Europe after it sells Volvo. The U.S. automaker will also seek to boost European capacity use to 100 percent this year despite a tough market, said Fleming, who spoke with Michael Knauer, a reporter at Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.
New Focus won't fail as a world car like the Mondeo did, Ford's Europe boss Fleming says
U.S. brand will not move upscale in European markets after Volvo sale
Previously, we didn't build true world cars. There was one model for Europe and one for North America. That was it. The new Focus, by contrast, is nearly identical for all markets worldwide. In this way, we were able to remove a great deal of complexity. That gives us more products at lower costs, and, what's more, even more quickly.
If you are asking whether cars manufactured in Europe could also be sold in America, or, conversely, cars manufactured in America, in Europe: Yes, definitely, that is possible. I don't see any danger in that.
We have to always position ourselves to operate profitably on a sustained basis. In doing so, we have to take aspects such as exchange rates, shipping costs and customs duties into consideration.
For this reason, there won't be any changes in the manufacturing locations in most cases.
Even after a sale, Ford will have complete access to the rights and patents resting with Volvo. But we have worked with Volvo for so many years in the area of vehicle safety that we aren't coming away empty-handed, if Volvo is no longer part of the Ford group.
In Europe, we have never pushed the goal of becoming a premium brand. We think that we'll be able to keep growing without advancing into the premium area.
For the industry in Europe, we are assuming sales of 13.5 million to 14.5 million vehicles this year after 15.7 million last year. Due to the expiration of government incentive programs, 2010 will certainly be a difficult year.
But we are convinced that Ford will be among the winners in the European market long term. We want to further increase our market share, which rose by 0.5 percent to 9.1 percent in 2009.
In the first half of 2009, we operated at more than 100 percent of capacity. In the second half of the year, we fell to 70 to 75 percent. In 2010, we will strive to get back to 100 percent.
I expect that the market will noticeably recover in 2011 so that we can continue to employ all our employees. Currently, I won't venture a prediction on how likely that is. What I can say is, we will actively take steps to adjust capacity to demand.