Ford Europe, Champs Or Chumps? Take Your Pick

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
ford europe champs or chumps take your pick

The “News. Any way you want it” syndrome is no longer an exclusive of China. You can have it from Ford as well. Looking for Ford success? No problem! Looking for Ford market disasters? We can deliver! Would you like the good news or the bad news?

Under the headline “Ford Reports 11% Decline in Main 19 European Markets’ Sales as Demand Sags,” Bloomberg reports from Germany that FoMoCo has hit a bit of a rough patch in the Old Country.

“Ford’s registrations in the first 11 months this year dropped 10 percent to 1.2 million vehicles with the carmaker’s market share declining 0.6 percentage points to 8.5 percent. Overall industry European sales fell for an eighth consecutive month, by 5.2 percent to 1.23 million units.

Registrations in the 19-nation region declined to 100,500 cars, the U.S. carmaker’s Cologne, Germany-based European division said today in a statement. Ford’s share of the market, which it called “very weak overall,” slipped 0.5 percentage points from a year ago to 8.1 percent.”

Let’s set aside the unimportant detail that it’s a 27-nation region. Ford’s Europe consists of a dizzying array of 51 countries including Libya and Uzbekistan. Or of 19 countries, including Turkey. Up to you.

Let’s visit the cited Ford statement instead. What bad news do we find there? None. At least not at first glance. And who still reads beyond the headlines?

We find a great headline: “Ford’s Total European Sales Up In November.”

We find Ingvar Sviggum, vice-president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe, “pleased to see our sales improvement in November in what is still a very weak market overall in Western Europe – especially with the strengthening of our position in the key markets of the UK and Germany – and the significant sales gains made in Turkey, Russia and Eastern Europe .”

We find Ford back to doing their old numbers tricks: “Ford also remained Europe’s No.2 best-selling passenger carbrand year-to-date (Euro 19).” For the truth in reporting, refer to the official ACEA statistics (those for November should be out any day now.)

We find that “Ford’s success comes despite continued heavy discounting by some competitors and despite the lowest November year-to-date industry volumes across Ford’s key 19 European markets since 1997.”

Deeply buried in the success story, we finally find:

“In the month of November, Ford registered 100,500 new vehicles in its main 19 European markets 12,400 units, or 10.9 per cent, lower than in November 2009. Market share in these countries was 8.1 per cent, 0.5 percentage points down on the same month 2009. Ford’s 19 European markets: year-to-date Ford registered 1,196,000 new Ford vehicles in the eleven months of 2010 – a decrease of 134,900 units or 10.1 per cent from last year. Year-to-date November market share in Ford’s main 19 European markets was 8.5 per cent, a decrease of 0.6 percentage points on the same period in 2009.“

And what about those 51 “European” markets?

“For the year-to-date, 1,416,600 new Ford vehicles have been registered, representing a reduction of 103,300 compared to the same period in 2009, or a decline of 6.9 per cent compared to 2009.”

You have to sift through a lot of positive news until you find the bad, but nobody can accuse Ford of suppressing bad news.

And the best news? Ford Europe receives TTAC’s P.T. Barnum prize for exceptional, industry-leading spinmeistery and gallantry in the combat for public opinion.

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2 of 3 comments
  • Ozibuns Ozibuns on Dec 14, 2010

    Karl Rove, is that you writing these press releases?

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Dec 14, 2010

    How much is Europe down for the year? FWIW, every auto maker does this. Did Toyota say that the only reason they turned a profit was because of their financing arm? Well yes, but way down in the fine print. What is the difference?

  • KOKing That base hybrid system must be something other than the normal Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, since that uses the two electric motors as the ('CVT') transmission without a separate transmission of any kind.
  • Analoggrotto Too much of the exterior is shared with the Grand Highlander. Toyota/Lexus is clearly over extended here as this was rushed in direct response to the Kia Telluride which has decimated RX sales. Lexus was not such a major offender of just changing the front and rear end caps on a lesser Toyota model (this worked for LX / Land Cruiser as the latter is already expensive) but for such a mass market vehicle, buyers will notice and may just go to Toyota (or Kia) for their big SUV.
  • Crtfour I'm a BOF SUV fan. In my opinion it's certainly not a looker (but what is these days). But it does look the part and should be great off road. Plus kudos to Toyota for retaining actual shift levers. So I give it a thumbs up.
  • Theflyersfan UX Hybrid, NX, NX Hybrid, NX Plug-In Hybrid EV, RZ, RX, RX Hybrid, RX 500h, GX, LX, and now the TX. (source: the bloated section of the Lexus SUV site) It's looking like the Taco Bell menu over there - the same dozen ingredients mixed around to make a lineup. I'm waiting for something like the WX to compete with the Chevy Trax and maybe the LXXXL to compete with the Hummer EV and maybe a four row crossover in 2025 and a lower-cased line like the rx or nx to compete with the German CUV-"coupes" and their slashed tops and cargo areas. C'mon Lexus, there are more micro-niches to be filled! Gather your boardroom committees together and come up with another plan! And careless parent alert: shouldn't that kid be in a booster seat? I mean in my age, we sat in the way back of station wagons on the flat floor and bounced around with every curve, but these days you gotta deck your kid out in 50 pounds of pads and bubble wrap before they leave the driveway, so get that child seat in the way back right now!
  • 28-Cars-Later Nice minivan, just add the sliding doors and quit living in denial.