On the Call: Ford CEO Alan Mulally

The Associated Press
Associated Press

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it lost $468 million in Europe because of falling sales in the region. The company expects to lose more than $1.5 billion there this year.

Last week, Ford announced a plan to curb its European losses by closing three plants, which will affect 6,200 employees. The company also plans to bring 15 new products to Europe — including the Mustang sports car — over the next five years.

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally discussed the European auto industry and what it needs to do to recover in a conference call Tuesday.

QUESTION: Is there anything in the European policy area that gives hope that that the economy — and auto sales — are going to get any better?

ANSWER: "I sure think so. Look at how the discussion and the debate has really changed. And you can see it very clearly, with everybody now talking about what it takes to create a viable automobile industry in Europe. And the discussion's now centered around having the business sized for the real demand and making the vehicles that people really do want and value, and letting the market really decide.

"And so I think it's a very - the discussion and the debate has moved to a very, very healthy place on what it really takes to create a long-term viable industry. And as you know, as hard as this is - and it is really hard - that's why we're moving so decisively, because the most important thing you can do is to size your production to the real demand and provide the vehicles that people really do want. Because if not, you don't have a chance to create an exciting, growing company.

"But I think a lot of people are coming to that same point of view, and I think it'll result in action to reduce the overcapacity in Europe, for the good of everybody."