US: Ford says US could reach 14m units in 2012, cautions on Europe contraction
Ford is sticking to its ambitious forecasts for the US car parc, but cautions Europe's myriad financial woes make the Continent far more problematical.
Addressing analysts today (27 February) at JP Morgan's global high yield and leveraged financial conference from Miami Beach in Florida, Ford struck a largely upbeat mood, although Europe continues to present challenges for all automakers.
Last month Ford CEO Alan Mulally, told just-auto at the Detroit North American International Auto Show he was convinced the US market could reach unit sales of 14m this year as the economy continues to improve - comments echoed by his treasurer.
"In 2012, we think it is about 3% growth globally, including 2%-3% growth in the US," said Ford vice president and treasurer Neil Schloss in a conference call from Miami Beach. "We will benefit from the emerging market growth.
"Europe is a bit of a different story - 12 countries are already in what we would call recession or contraction - Greece remains uncertain in spite of the recent action with the European Union but we still think the global economy will grow at a pace."
Schloss is forecasting US volume of between 13.5m and 14m for this year, but added a total of 19 European markets which Ford tracks, could yield a reduced number of 14m-15m units.
"We recognise the risks in Europe, but also the opportunities to really benefit from all the restructuring and products we have built... to really sweat these," said Schloss. "Obviously Europe is an area we are spending a lot of time - it is the market around it and we will continue to work that.
"We believe our European business is fundamentally strong [and] we are continuing to move east as we think about the Romanian plant coming on line. We have just announced another joint venture with Sollers [Russia], we have the facility in Valencia, Spain, in addition to Cologne."
The Ford treasurer noted significant numbers of foreign OEMs were now present in South America with global products the key to such a large and diverse marketplace.
"The speed we can get our new products there, to be best in class" [will be important], added Schloss.
Ford Sollers, the 50:50 joint venture established last year between Ford and Sollers OJSC, said it would build the Ford Explorer in Tatarstan from 2012.
The SUV will be the first Ford product to be manufactured at a Sollers plant in the Russian republic.