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by Tim Beissmann

Ford Motor Co. has announced a $US2.6 billion ($2.4 billion) profit for the first quarter of 2011 on the back of rising US and European sales and an increased demand for its smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.

The Q1 result was the largest for Ford in 12 years, eclipsing 2010’s figure of $US2.13 billion, and puts the Detroit-based manufacturer on track to post a profit for the third consecutive calendar year.

Revenue in Q1 was up $5 billion from last year to $33.1 billion. Ford also slashed $US2.5 billion off its debt, bringing the total figure down to $US16.6 billion.

Ford’s automotive business generated $US2.2 billion for the quarter, up from a loss in Q1 2010, benefitting from a growth in volume and per-unit net revenue.

Ford’s new vehicles sales in the US – its largest market – increased 12 percent in Q1, with the highly profitable F-Series up almost 25 percent compared with 2010.

The result was despite rising fuel prices in the US, which have prompted forecasters to revise annual sales predictions from 13.3 million to 12.9 million for 2011.

Ford says the recent introduction of new models – including the Fiesta and the new Explorer in the US, and the C-Max in Europe – has meant demand is still keeping up with supply.

Ford plans to produce 1.5 million vehicles in North America in the second quarter of 2011, a slight increase over the same period in 2010. The company has already lost production of around 13,000 units in the second quarter as a result of stunted supply from Asia.

Closer to home, Ford’s market share in the Asia Pacific Africa region increased largely on the back of rising popularity of its Figo, Fiesta, Focus and Ranger models.

Ford Australia’s market share increased from 8.7 to 9.1 percent, placing it in fourth position overall behind Toyota, Holden and Mazda.




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