Ford hopes new models will reverse first half sales decline

Cologne. Despite the introduction of new models Ford's troubles have worsened in the past six months.

According to internal figures European sales have dropped by 2.4 percent from 725,300 to 707,600 units. In Germany sales have plummeted by 11.8 percent, from 136,439 to only 120,300 vehicles. Ford's share of the German market has slipped from 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent.

"There are no longer any stable markets within Europe," said Bernhard Mattes, CEO at Ford-Werke AG. His aim to "keep last year's market position" appears to be under threat.

There are losses throughout the whole model range with the exception of new models Streetka and Fusion. Mattes attributes much of the trouble to customer unease over government discussions about news taxes on business cars, changes within the model range and new engines.

Mattes hopes sales will take off during the second half of the year, led by the new Focus C-Max compact MPV.

But Mattes does not rule out production cuts for the second half of 2003.

"If the demand does not increase we have to consider cuts, beside other measures," he said.

According to sources in Cologne, cuts in daily production and longer vacation shutdowns are being considered. Mattes declined to discuss potential job cuts.

He said: "This will not be discussed publicly."

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