Ford Sees Profitability in 2011

Ford forecasts U.S. industry sales of 10.5 to 11 million units this year, 12.5 million in 2010 and 14.5 million in 2011.

Ford Motor Co.'s CEO Alan Mulally said on Sept. 23 he expected the group to be profitable in 2011, despite the U.S. market recovering more slowly than from past recessions. He forecast U.S. industry sales of 10.5 to 11 million units this year, 12.5 million in 2010 and 14.5 million in 2011.

"It is a slower recovery than we have had in the past," Mulally told reporters in New Delhi, where Ford announced plans to launch its first small car in India to target the fast-growing auto market there.

"The fundamental economy coming back is the absolute key -- that has to happen before automobiles (sales) start to really move back," he said.

And he said the market "is starting to pick up right now."

"The guidance we have given overall -- because we continue to invest in new products -- is that we will be profitable in 2011," he said.

In July Ford announced a second-quarter net profit of $2.3 billion due to cost-cutting and a one-time gain from debt reduction in the three months to March. In August, it posted a 17% jump in U.S. sales, fuelled by the popular government-funded "Cash for Clunkers" program.

"The scrappage program accomplished everything that everybody wanted because it was a stimulus program -- it was done for near-term stimulus. It accomplished its objectives," Mulally said. Longer-term, the market "is looking really very good," he added.

"When we look out the next 20 years, we see about one-third of all vehicles being purchased in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

Ford has posted three straight years of annual losses totalling $30 billion and it lost a further $1.4 billion in the first quarter of this year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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