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Ford Still Optimistic In Europe, Even As GM Exits The Market

Ford is still optimistic regarding the European market, reports CNBC, despite concerns over the UK’s impending departure from the European Union, and GM’s decision to exit the continent by selling its German Opel brand to PSA.

“Last year we had record profitability [in Europe], with nearly 4 percent of operating margin,” Ford Europe President Jim Farley told CNBC in an interview at the Geneva Motor Show. “This is still a key market globally for new technology roll-outs like electric cars and automated vehicles, and key for Ford’s commercial vehicles.”

Ford’s turnaround in Europe is still very much a work-in-progress. In 2015, Ford earned its first profit on the continent in years, meager though it was ($259 million pretax), after much restructuring. Last year, the company raked in $1.2 billion in pretax profits, and Ford continues to evaluate how it can strengthen its lineup and shift manufacturing around to bolster profits even further.

Mr. Farley told CNBC that Ford’s profitability in Europe has been helped by a diverse product lineup, and that the automaker’s performance division accounts for quite a large proportion of its sales. At the same time, the UK’s “Brexit” vote last year is cause for concern, and the Ford Europe President said back in January that the automaker could take a $600-million hit in the UK this year from the resulting shock to the pound sterling.

That said, Mr. Farley said the company is still committed to reaching a 6-percent operating margin, and is optimistic that the UK and the European Union can negotiate a new free-trade agreement.

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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