Ford Says 2010 Car Market May Expand as Much as 10%

Ford Motor Co., the second-biggest U.S. carmaker, said the global automotive market will expand by 5 percent to 10 percent in 2010 as the worldwide economic recovery takes hold.

Asian markets, where growth is moderating, remain strong, John Fleming, Ford’s head of global manufacturing and formerly its top European executive, said today in a webcast. In Europe and the U.S., consumer spending will revive slowly from “below- trend” levels as central banks offer cheap credit to encourage buying, he said.

“The economy is improving, but the strength of the recovery is uneven,” with “weaker” markets in Europe as government incentives for auto sales expire, Fleming said. An industrywide capacity “shakeout” is likely in the region, where vehicle pricing remains under pressure, he said.

Ford, the only major U.S. carmaker to avoid bankruptcy during the worldwide recession, is concentrating on adding sales and lowering costs at its main brand. The Dearborn, Michigan- based company is expanding production in China, now the world’s biggest car market, with two new factories and is boosting its model lineup in India with eight new designs.

Fleming took his current position in August, when Ford completed the sale of its Gothenburg, Sweden-based Volvo Cars brand to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ford also plans to eliminate the Mercury line in the U.S. by the end of this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cornelius Rahn in Frankfurt at crahn2@bloomberg.net.

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