Ford predicts 100,000 extra sales

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S biggest car seller, Ford, has raised its market forecast for this year by 100,000 to 1.9 million following the sales surge in the first two months of the year.

The 18 per cent increase in registrations in January and February compared with the same period last year has persuaded Ford to put most of its UK car and van plants back to nearly full production after a prolonged period of layoffs and short-time working.

Ian McAllister, chairman of Ford of Britain, said: 'On the basis that the recession is probably over, we have decided that maybe 1.8 million is too low and that we should budget for 1.9 million.'

He said that Ford was confident of being able to run its Dagenham, Halewood and Southampton car and van plants at their present levels until the annual August shutdown.

Vauxhall, number two in the UK car market, is forecasting sales of 1.88 million to 1.89 million this year, a 7 per cent increase on last year.

Charles Golden, Vauxhall's chairman, warned that the strong rise in January and February sales was unlikely to be sustained throughout the year.

'The tax increases in April will be the main factor in cooling off the market,' he predicted.

Neither manufacturer plans to step up export production markedly in light of the frailty in Continental European markets.

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