FRANKFURT, Germany — Ford’s money-losing European business saw sales fall 2.1 percent last year in a tough market where unemployment and a slow recovery are holding back buyers.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker sold 1.08 million cars in 19 European countries, as sales slipped for two of the company’s mainstay models, the small Fiesta hatchback and compact Focus.
Stephen Odell, the company’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, pointed to a 14 percent increase in sales to individuals as a positive sign. The company is seeking to reduce its reliance on sales to company fleets and car rental companies, which aren’t as profitable, as it seeks to return the Europe operation to profit by 2015.
The company says retail sales are better for its brand image and improve resale value for its customers.