Fields sees Ford Europe growth, eyes break-even by mid-decade

Mark Fields: "We're starting to see our plan be effective." Photo credit: Reuters

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. is sticking with its forecast for a smaller loss in Europe this year and break-even by 2015 even as the company sees signs of growth.

Auto sales in Europe are growing this year after falling to a two-decade low in 2013. Through February, sales rose 6.3 percent, and March results are due tomorrow. Ford is gaining share in the region and in key markets, such as Germany, COO Mark Fields told reporters today at the New York suto show.

“The good news is we are seeing, not only the market actually growing a bit, but our performance -- our share was up again in the first quarter and we’re adding production,” Fields said. “We’re starting to see our plan be effective.”

Fields, promoted to COO in late 2012, is the front-runner to eventually succeed Alan Mulally as the company's CEO. In a speech that officially opened the New York show, he said the Lincoln brand’s MKZ mid-size sedan is “starting to resonate” with U.S. consumers and that Ford hasn’t changed its recall practices in light of GM’s crisis over faulty ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.

Bill Ford with the Mustang on top of the Empire State Building today. "The final act of a great CEO is having a great transition," he told Bloomberg TV. Photo credit: Reuters

Executive Chairman Bill Ford said he has been talking with Mulally about the importance of making a smooth transition to his successor.

“The final act of a great CEO is having a great transition,” Ford said today on Bloomberg TV. He declined to say if Fields would succeed Mulally, who has said he will stay at the automaker through this year.

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