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Ford Motor reveals 15 fresh models for European market over five years

MILAN -- Ford Motor Co. on Thursday unveiled 15 new or restyled vehicles for the European market that it will launch over five years to revive slumping sales.

While other carmakers are holding back on new car launches due to tanking European demand, Ford executives announced that the Detroit carmaker will accelerate new car launches in Europe, expanding its lineup of SUVs, restyling the hot-selling Fiesta, redesigning its commercial vehicles and bringing the iconic Mustang sports across the Atlantic.

Ford Europe CEO Stephen Odell said improvements in the “brutal” European market are not expected soon. Ford's first-half European sales dropped 10 percent to 517,094 units, a 7.8 percent market share for the fifth-largest carmaker in Europe.

Consumer demand for cars in Europe has plummeted as the sovereign debt crisis has spread to the real economy, cutting economic production and forcing up unemployment in the region. Vehicle sales in the European Union dropped 6.8 percent in the first six months of the year to 6.64 million, from 7.1 million in the same period a year earlier — raising concerns about factory overcapacity across the continent.

But Odell said Ford wants “to demonstrate that despite the economic crisis, we are investing in the future ... We want to make a statement loud and clear that we believe there is great opportunity in Europe.”

Ford forecasts that car sales in Europe, including Russia, will increase by 20 percent in the next five years to 23 million vehicles.

Many of the new vehicles announced at a gathering of Ford dealers in Amsterdam, broadcast live on the Internet, are either restyled versions of existing vehicles or European launches of vehicles available in other world markets, as the car company accelerates its global model strategy devised six years ago to confront the economic crisis in North America.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally said the so-called “One Ford” strategy has helped the automaker post 12 straight quarters of profits.

“In 2017, our European showrooms will feature 15 truly global vehicles,” Mulally said, bringing to 71 percent the share of global models in Europe, compared with 43 percent currently.

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With two new Ford Mondeo models seen in the background, Allan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, center and on-screen, is joined by other Ford executives to answer questions during a presentation of fresh Ford models in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sept. 6. Ford has unveiled 15 new or restyled vehicles for the European market that it will launch over five years to revive sales. (AP)

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