Europe's car market will stay "depressed" for the next few years, but prospects are good for expansion in the United States and Asia-Pacific, Ford's new COO said Wednesday.

In comments also echoed by Toyota's top U.S. boss, Mark Fields said the U.S. auto company will double its market participation in some segments in China in the next three years.

The European market is at its weakest since 1994, Fields -- who takes up his new global executive role at the company this week -- told reporters at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

"The industry is very, very tough right now. Our view going forward for our business is that the industry will stay depressed, or low trend levels, for a number of years," he said.

Ford Launches Transformation Plan

To counter that,Ford (IW 500/6) has launched a "transformation" plan including, notably, manufacturing cost savings in Belgium and Britain, while focusing more commercial and small utility vehicles.

"I'm very optimistic that in working our transformation plan, we will get the business back to sustainability, and our objective is by mid-decade to get the business in Europe back to profitability

Longer term, Ford hopes to get operating margins in Europe of 6% to 8%, he added.

In North America, Fields was cautiously optimistic, as the U.S. economy recovers from the global depression.