PARIS -- The head of the luxury car division of Ford Motor Co., the world's second-biggest auto maker, said on Monday he did not rule out the unit turning a profit in 2003.
"It is not out of the question that we could be profitable this year," Mark Fields, Chief Executive of Ford's Premier Automotive Group (PAG), told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Paris.
Together with Ford's upscale Lincoln brand, PAG has been ordered by Bill Ford Jr., the automaker's chairman and chief executive, to contribute more than 30 percent of group profits by the middle of the decade.
But the division, which includes the Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin brands, made an $88-million pre-tax loss in the first quarter of 2003, while Ford's North American business -- its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands -- turned a $1.2 billion pre-tax profit.
Fields, who gained a reputation as a cost-cutter as head of Japanese car firm Mazda before he took charge of PAG a year ago, has pledged consolidation after a period of rapid growth under its previous chief, Wolfgang Reitzle.