Ford hopes to buck trend by selling Mustang in Europe

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Ford launched a fresh assault on the European market yesterday and Jaguar Land Rover launched its latest Range Rover – just as figures showed waning demand for new cars among British buyers.

Ford, which employs 15,000 people in the UK at major sites including Dagenham in east London and Southampton, unveiled 15 new or remodelled vehicles for the European market that it will launch over five years in an effort to revive sales.

The launches will see its Mustang – the descendent of the car driven by Steve McQueen in the legendary car chase through the streets of San Francisco in the film Bullitt – sold in Europe for the first time.

Ford's European boss, Stephen Odell, is increasing the company's investment in Europe, but warned that improvements in the "brutal" European car market are not expected any time soon.

His comments came as Jaguar Land Rover – now owned by the Indian conglomerate Tata – launched its new Range Rover in London, while Honda has signalled a £267m investment in its Swindon factories to build new versions of two of its models.

But the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a near-stagnation in new car sales during August. They were up just 0.1 per cent to 59,433 as buyers held off for the new registration plates this month. September historically accounts for 17 per cent of new car sales.

Paul Everitt, the chief executive of the SMMT, said: "The economic outlook remains challenging, but vehicle manufacturers and dealers are working hard to sustain demand and deliver great value products and services."

Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, added: "The latest data on car sales shows a loss of momentum, although it needs to be borne in mind that August is always a very quiet month for car sales."

Ford's UK car sales totalled 18,527 in July, up 1.6 per cent year on year. In total, the company has sold 1,201,564 cars since the start of the year.