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Old 10-25-2002, 09:27   #1 (permalink)
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Ford Australia Nears Profit

MELBOURNE, Oct 25, 2002; Reuters reported that Ford Australia said on Friday it was on track for an improved result in calendar 2002 and will come close to turning a profit after two years of losses.

The Ford Motor Co unit posted a A$5.5 million ($3.0 million) after tax loss in 2001, improving on a A$16.1 million loss in 2000.

"I would think we would be better than last year and we will be close to a profit," Ford Australia President, Geoff Polites, told Reuters after an address to the American Chamber of Commerce lunch.

Polites said the final result would depend on factors including production levels over the next few months.

"We have pretty well maximum overtime scheduled between now and the end of the year," he said.

"There are no excuses in 2003. I would expect to have a better year next year and be significantly more profitable."

Ford Australia is seeking an improved performance from the release of new models and last year announced it was spending around A$500 million in a new vehicle line which it will launch in 2004.

Polites said Australia's four car makers have seen their share of the domestic market fall from 51 percent in 1993 to an expected 30 percent this year, although their volumes have remained about the same as the total market has increased.

Domestic rival manufacturers Holden Ltd, a unit of General Motors Corp , and units of Toyota Motor Corp and Mitsubishi Corp have targeted exports to combat the lack of domestic opportunities.

"We have got a different plan. Our view is that we can grab a greater share of the domestic market by doing something different, so we are introducing a new product," Polites said.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has forecast that total Australian vehicle sales in 2002 will reach a record 820,000 units, partly reflecting low interest rates and strong consumer and business sentiment.
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