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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Ford goes for growth
The new Ford Fiesta
The new Fiesta: Ford has high hopes
Auto giant Ford has revealed plans to double its share of the small car sector in Europe.

The pledge was made by the head of Ford Europe at the Frankfurt motor show as the company unveiled its new Fiesta.

The new car is due to go on sale in Europe next year.

"We had a market share in this sector of 12 to 13% four or five years ago and it is around 7% now," said David Thursfield, chairman and chief executive of Ford Europe.

"We can not see any reason why we can not get that back."

Fierce competition

The Ford Fiesta was first launched in 1976, and has ever since been the company's main product in the so-called 'supermini' car category.

But the model has come under fierce competition in recent years from rival manufacturers.

A reminder of this competition has come this week in Frankfurt where Volkswagen is also showing off its redesigned Polo model.

And BMW recently launched the new Mini.

Professor Karel Williams, motor industry researcher at the University of Manchester, said he thinks Ford should have revamped the model sooner.

"Ford let the old Fiesta stay in the market too long," Professor Williams told BBC News Online.

And he doubted whether the new model would help boost Ford's profitability by much.

"[The Fiesta] will do some good, but will not be a huge advantage in terms of finances," he said.

Restructuring

Last year Ford Europe lost nearly $1bn, but it returned to profitability in the first quarter of this year.

The company has undergone a huge restructuring programme which has seen plant closures and job cuts.

But now the end could be in sight.

"This industry has been tough, but our restructuring programme is largely behind us," Mr Thursfield said.

See also:

10 Sep 01 | Business
Ford concern on Europe downturn
10 Sep 01 | Business
Ford 'prepares bid' for VW
17 Aug 01 | Business
Ford cuts up to 5,000 jobs
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