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Ford of Europe loss is shrinking

Cologne. Ford is turning around its European business.

Ford of Europe boss Lewis Booth said the company would achieve its target to improve results by between $900 million and $1 billion and to reduce last year's losses of $1.1 billion to between $100 and $200 million.

Booth plans to continue increasing Ford's plant effectiveness. He said that Toyota's European plants were the benchmark. He does not want to play the plants against each other, despite internal competition.

Ford-Werke boss Bernhard Mattes is committed to the German plants and said that Cologne and Saarlouis are working to capacity.

Ford Group Vice President Richard Parry-Jones said that the "global shared technologies" initiative had achieved huge cost reductions particularly during the engineering of the new Focus through synergies between the group's brands -- Ford, Volvo and Mazda -- along with suppliers' price concessions.

Parry-Jones said: "These synergies have a great impact on the grading with Focus suppliers. I would be very disappointed if the savings achieved here would be less than 10 percent."

Parry-Jones said there will be more variants of the Focus. He said a convertible version would come "fairly quickly" and a compact SUV version might "play a good role in the Focus program."

A prototype of the Focus convertible four-seater will be shown at the Paris auto show. The car's launch is planned for 2006. It has a metal folding roof and will be manufactured at the Pininfarina plant in Italy.

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