Rival car makers have launched sales incentives to combat the success in Europe of the Ford Focus C-Max.

The C-Max is one of the most recent entrants in Europe's medium-sized people mover (minivan) segment but it has won 13.4% of the European market since its introduction in late 2003.

Ford´s competitors have taken notice of the newcomer and have responded with incentives, said Earl Hesterberg, vice president of sales and marketing for Ford of Europe.

Hesterberg declined to name the competitors but said most of the deals were being offered in France and the United Kingdom.

The C-Max was seven years late to market and was widely criticised for not having enough seats. But the model is attracting more customers than even Ford anticipated, especially in France.

This year Ford will make about 160,000 C-Maxes, about 11,200 more than planned.

The C-Max competes in the compact minivan segment against vehicles such as the Renault Scenic, Citroen Picasso and Volkswagen Touran.

The C-Max is the first vehicle built on the next-generation Focus platform.

The redesigned Focus will go into production during the third quarter. It will be shown at the Paris motor show in September and go on sale in the fourth quarter.

Hesterberg told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Montreux that incentives had increased sharply in Europe during the last 13 months.