Ford will post better results for its European operations in the second half of the year after recording surprisingly weak results in the second quarter, Ford president Nick Scheele said at the Traverse City, Michigan, automotive seminars on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“I anticipate significantly better results in the second half of the year in Europe,” Scheele reportedly told the media following a speech at the automotive conference.

Reuters noted that Ford lost $US773 million, before taxes, in the first half of this year in Europe, including a loss of $525 million in the second quarter as results were hit by lower vehicle prices, heavy competition and currency fluctuations.

According to Reuters, Scheele said the recent weakening of the British pound against the euro will help Ford in Britain, where much of its manufacturing is based and where Ford is the market leader.

“For years, because of sterling, Britain was significantly more expensive than other European markets, that has now completely reversed,” he reportedly said.

According to Reuters, he also said that has hindered the ability of European car makers to undercut Ford and offer special deals in Britain. “That will enable us to gain market share,” he said.

Scheele reiterated that Ford’s goal this year remains to earn 70 cents per share, Reuters said, citing the senior Ford executive as adding: “That is still our goal, that is still our plan.”

Reuters said Ford has been forced to raise its cost-cutting goal this year to $2.5 billion to meet its earnings target and, to the end of June, had cut $1.9 billion in costs.

Scheele also denied industry reports that Ford would discontinue its [Explorer-based] Lincoln AVIATOR mid-size sport utility vehicle as early as 2005 due to poor sales, Reuters added.

He reportedly said sales of the Aviator, which was launched late last year, are on track, and will total about 30,000 annually – Ford sold 15,164 Aviators in the United States in the first seven months of this year.

“Always we will drop something at some stage, but we have taken no decision on Aviator,” Scheele said, according to Reuters.