Ford’s European Sales Up in May With New Product on the Way

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

Ford saw a slight increase in sales in Europe in May, as the auto industry continues to slowly recover and the automaker prepares to launch a raft of key new products.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker sold 99,900 vehicles last month in the traditional 20 Western European markets, an increase of 1.5 percent from a year ago, which is the same increase as the industry as a whole. That brings Ford’s year-to-date increase to 9.3 percent with almost 542,000 vehicles sold through the first five months, which is outpacing the industry’s 7.2 percent growth.

And the best is yet to come, said Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and service for Ford of Europe, in an interview.

A number of key products will go on sale in July, kicking off the second half of the year when the automaker expects to increase its market share that was flat at 7.8 percent for the month and 8.1 percent year-to-date.

The first shipment of Ford Mustangs left a U.S. port on Thursday, bound for Europe, and de Waard is hopeful they will be in dealerships by July 4. Almost 5,000 are already spoken for, and while Europe is getting an ample allotment, the sales chief said that there is always the possibility that demand will exceed supply and that with sales strong in the U.S. as well, he doubts he could get more than his allotment.

Also launching now are the new S-Max, Galaxy and C-Max, which are popular vehicles in Europe, and dealers will soon get their first Mondeo Vignale, which is a high-end version of the mid-size sedan, similar to a Lincoln in the U.S. The Vignale series will continue to roll out with an S-Max Vignale next year and more models to follow, de Waard said.

In May, Ford’s sales increase was led by the new Mondeo (up 75 percent); the EcoSport small crossover and the Transit commercial van family.

The biggest growth is in commercial vehicles; segment sales are outpacing passenger sales across the industry, de Waard said.

Ford is able to capitalize on this trend with a fresh lineup that includes the Transit, Transit Custom, Transit Connect and Transit Courier, as well as the Ranger pickup, which had its best May since 1999.

Ford’s total commercial-vehicle sales were up 16 percent in May and 36 percent so far this year, and market share is up to 11.5 percent for the month and 12.7 percent year-to-date — levels Ford has not seen in decades.

Increased sales of commercial vehicles is an indicator that the economy continues to improve in Europe. But the recovery is uneven. Commercial vehicles and small utility vehicles are selling well, but with overcapacity in Europe, many automakers continue to rely on fleet sales and high incentives in many segments of the market.