Ford senses growing strength in volumes on European car market

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The Independent Online
SALES in the West European car market will be 200,000 higher this year than last, Ford of Europe's chairman, Jacques Nasser, said last week. Speaking at the Dagenham plant, the first British plant to be awarded Ford's 'Q1' quality award, he said he was cautiously optimistic about sales. 'I feel significantly better than I did six months ago, but the market is still not strong.'

Mr Nasser said Britain, Spain and France were performing well, while Germany was holding up better than expected in the first three months. Italian sales were a 'disappointing' 21 per cent down, although Ford hopes they may improve now the election is over.

The French market's recovery has been driven by government support that has subtly combined environmental correctness with commercial advantage. It has been offering Fr5,000 ( pounds 560), which is matched by the car companies, for anyone trading in a 10-year-old car.

Japanese sales of cars, trucks and buses dropped 8.8 per cent from a year earlier to a five-year low of 4.81 million units in the year to March, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said yesterday.