Ford of Europe has its first import-export manager. Jan Brentebraten, 52, will study the potential for importing Ford Motor Co.'s North American-built models to Europe.

US rivals General Motors and the Chrysler group are boosting sales in Europe by importing North American-built cars, according to Automotive News Europe.

The veteran Ford troubleshooter will first look at whether the Ford Mustang should go to Europe.

Ford of Europe CEO Lewis Booth said a decision would be made later this year on whether the Mustang and other North America-sourced models will be imported officially into Europe.

"It must be profitable and we must put into place a good infrastructure for parts, technical training and service," Booth said.

The first retail sale of the new Mustang was to a German couple who bought the car in California and shipped it to Germany.

Specialist importers in Europe are already taking orders for the Mustang.

Ford is the only Detroit automaker that does not distribute its North American models through official sales channels in Europe.

The last model Ford imported into Europe was the Cougar coupe, which was sold from 1998 until production stopped in 2001. European sales peaked in 1999 with 20,802 units.

GM is shaking up its European sales operation for its US-made models.

In the future, GM will sell its US-made GM models under the GMC brand to distance them from GM's Chevrolet Europe (formerly GM Daewoo) economy cars built in Korea.

Chrysler will launch its US-based Dodge brand in Europe starting in early 2006 as an entry-level brand targeting young buyers.

Last year, Chrysler sold about 90,000 Chrysler and Jeep models in western Europe. About 40,000 were imported from the US; the rest were assembled locally in Austria and Germany.

Dodge will debut a concept for a lower medium-sized car for Europe code-named PM 49 at the Geneva motor show in March. A medium SUV and an upper-medium sedan also will be launched in Europe.