PAUL MCVEIGH

Economic woes mean a 'wild ride' for industry, Ford's European chief says

Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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The car industry is in for an unpredictable time -- and it won't be fun, says Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell.

"We're in for a wild ride," Odell said, when asked what effect the Eurozone debt crisis and the austerity measures being implemented by many European governments will have on new-car sales.

"It's so unpredictable, for example will Greece stay in the euro or leave? The answer changes day by day," Odell told me at a Ford event on Monday night on the eve of the Frankfurt auto show's first press day.

Despite the economic uncertainty, Ford feels "comfortable" it can withstand a downturn, Odell said, thanks to a product lineup that will be Europe's freshest in the coming years and new technology that infuences customer buying decisions such as the Ford Sync connectivity system.

Ford is certainly no shrinking violet it Frankfurt. It has its largest stand ever at the show, along with an outdoor test track.

The company is debuting its new Evos concept that previews the brands's new global design language, in particular a new "face" for the automaker.

The company also unveils the new B-Max minivan and -- a surprise -- a station wagon variant of the high-performance Focus ST 250-hp compact car for European buyers only.

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