Ford's efforts to turn around its European operations have gained more ground but it still needs to control costs and launch new models before it could get out of the red, according to regional boss Stephen Odell. The carmaker is aiming for a turnaround in 2015, a goal that could be in reach thanks to recovering demand, Odell said.
"There are enough signals that we've leveled out," Odell told Reuters Insider TV, citing the second monthly gain in a row in regional sales in the last few months.
Ford is expecting its registrations in Western Europe to stabilize at 13.5 million vehicles this year and to return to growth in 2014, Odell remarked. While those figures are still below its pre-crisis peak of 18.5 million vehicles, the market is on pace for the 15 million forecast where it based its 2015 profit goal. Odell remarked that the goal is not "a wildly optimistic plan," as it does not "overly depend upon the industry.
He said that the goal requires tight cost control; the successful launch of models, increasing prices on higher-end versions under Ford's new Vignale label. Ford is also targeting to offer 25 over the next five years, starting with the Ecosport sports utility vehicle that will be available starting early 2014. Ford will start introducing the high-end Vignale sub-brand on its next Mondeo mid-sized car in 2015, to be followed by other models.
The carmaker will also introduce its iconic Mustang "muscle" car in Europe in 2014, as it aims to boost the prestige of the brand. Odell remarked that Mustang is a real banner car that will allow them to end the fact that Ford's products are undervalued in Europe. "It's not about selling hundreds of thousands of Mustangs in Europe," Odell said.