FORD EUROPE, ASIA-PACIFIC SALES MAKE DOUBLE-DIGIT GAINS IN MAYBy Michael J. Ureel, FCN
May sales reports out of Europe and Asia show that small cars and commercial vehicles built by Ford of Europe and Ford Asia Pacific continue to be industry leaders. Sales are vigorous. Fresh, new products are outselling the competition.
European sales in May of Ford brand vehicles jumped 11 percent from a year ago to 157,200 units. And in Asia-Pacific, despite weak performance in some markets, Ford's overall performance was positive, fueled mainly by strong growth in China and India.
"In this environment, it is more important than ever that our operations outside of North America stay on track and deliver their sales and growth objectives," said Mark Schulz, president, International Operations. "In May, our teams delivered double digit growth in Europe and market share gains in India and China -- this was the result of a lot of hard work by many people."
In Europe, the freshened Ford Fiesta closed the month with sales of 32,100 units, an increase of 15 percent from last May, while sales of the freshened Ford Fusion were 9,800, up 40 percent. Including Fiesta and Fusion, sales of Ford's small cars so far in 2006 totaled more than 213,000 units -- a 13 percent gain from last year.
"Ford sales regained momentum in May, especially in key markets such as Great Britain and Italy," said Stephen Odell, Ford of Europe vice president of marketing, sales and service. "We expect that strong pace to continue as availability of the all-new S-MAX and Galaxy extends across Europe and customers take advantage of our expanding product range."
The all-new Ford Transit and the Transit Connect also continues their strong performance in the commercial vehicles sector, reporting a 17 per cent increase for May, with 30,800 units sold.
Ford's May and year-to-date results reflect sales from its 21 European markets, including Turkey and Russia. Market share for May was 9.2 per cent, up 0.1 points from a year ago. Total Ford retail sales between January and May 2006 were 741,300 units, a 3 per cent gain from the prior year. Market share for the year-to-date period was 8.9 per cent, equal to prior year.
Ford's most successful markets in Europe in the first five months of 2006 in terms of market share were Turkey (16.4 percent) and Britain (16.3 percent), both countries where Ford is market leader. In Britain, the Ford Focus is Britain's top-selling car and has outsold its closest competitor by a third.
"Ford's strong sales performance in 2006 in an ultra-competitive market clearly shows that we have our best-ever car and commercial vehicle line-up," said Roelant de Waard, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director. "Our vehicle range will be further strengthened by the new Focus Coupe-Cabriolet and the Ford Ranger when they come out later this year."
The Asia Pacific and Africa region, comprising 12 main countries including China, India and Australia, is doing well with Ford brand sales in May at over 37,000 units, up 12.6 percent over last year. This is much faster growth than the auto industry in the region, which increased by approximately 3 percent in May.
China and India, the two largest markets in Asia Pacific, are lifting the region with tremendous growth. Ford saw sales in China grow by over 90 percent in May year-on-year, and Ford in India grew by over 75 percent—well above industry averages in both markets.
"We are making good progress in the big growth markets like China and India, which I am very glad to see," said Schulz. "In both cases, our teams are doing an excellent job of raising awareness and growing sales with the strong new products, specifically Fiesta in India and Focus in China. At the same time, markets that have been strong for Ford in the past -- such as Taiwan and some of the ASEAN markets -- are struggling. It is a challenge right now, but not one we can't meet."
Ford sales were down in Taiwan and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), typically strong markets for Ford, in part because of slowing industry car sales. On the upside, in Australia, where Ford had struggled earlier in the year, results stabilized in May with sales down less than 1 percent which was generally in line with the market's performance