Ford's top European executive on Friday said the automaker's business plan for the market "is working", citing first half profit and strong sales.

The H1 2010 profit of $429m was almost $1 billion better than last year and Ford was Europe's second best-selling passenger car brand in July and year-to-date, the automaker said in a statement.

July and year to date sales volume and market share declined year on year due to "the slowdown in the European market and heavy competitive discounting" but the brand retained overall market leadership in the UK, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland and Turkey.

The Fiesta, just launched in the US, remained Ford's top-selling car in Europe and Europe's second best seller overall. Market share increased in three out of 19 main European markets in July and four of the 19 markets in the first seven months of 2010.

Ford of Europe's newly-appointed chairman and CEO, Stephen Odell said: "Our strategy of not chasing volume and share at the expense of profitability is also paying off. Ford made $429m profit in the first half of 2010 – almost a $1bn improvement over the same period last year – so our plan in Europe is definitely working."

He noted July was the fourth consecutive month of decline in Europe following the ending of scrappage schemes in most countries. Ford's sales of 97,800 new vehicles in its 'traditional 19 European markets' was 28,100 units lower compared to July 2009. Market share was 8.3% for the month, 0.7% down on July 2009.  

"High discounts on new cars – as many of our competitors are continuing to offer – can have the negative effect of lowering the residual value, of a vehicle and imply a risk to the investment a customer has made when buying a new car," Ford Europe marketing and sales chief Ingvar Sviggum noted. "I believe such unsustainable heavy discounting only damages brand reputation and further weakens the market."

In May and July, Ford UK 'realigned' its prices 'to reflect real-world transactions' in an effort to reduce discounting.