(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) US car-maker Ford announced on Sunday a sharp resurgence in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in the first quarter 2010 following a one-year slump that saw its UAE sales plummeting by as much as 30 per cent.
Larry Prein, Managing Director for Ford Middle East, said across the GCC markets, the automaker —, the only one of the "Big Three" US automakers that did not opt for a government bailout in 2008 — could gain market share of 10 per cent as its sales soared 43 per cent in the first quarter compared to an industry average of five per cent.
In 2009, Ford sales in the UAE dropped by 30 per cent to 7,000 units while sales across the region declined to 62,000 units.
In the first quarter, driven by Lincoln and Mercury line-up, Ford sales saw a 25 per cent in the UAE, with growth registered across passenger cars and utility vehicles alike
Ford's resilience came at a time when its rivals, including General Motors and Toyota, were facing a series of setbacks due to vehicles recalls sales surge.
Prein said despite a downturn in sales across the GCC in 2009, the carmaker did not lay off a single employee in the region. "In fact, we have been increasing our staff strength in the region," Prein said.
He said Ford's new car sales were not affected by restrictions imposed on new car loans by lenders. Many car dealers have been complaining that their sales had been negatively impacted by the tight-fisted lending rules imposed by banks in the aftermath of the liquidity crunch.
Hussein Murad, Ford's director of Sales in the Middle East, said new hybrid cars with regional specification would be launched by 2012. Testing of the vehicles is underway.
"We hope to sustain sales growth through the rest of the year through new product line-ups," he said. Ford's product drive remains on track for 2010 with at least five new products making their way into the region, he said.
"This has been an outstanding quarter for Ford in the region, and we are thrilled to see the momentum continue from where we left it end of 2009," Murad said. "Our customer base is growing at a rapid pace as we continue to gain market share, and Ford's success story is evident today more than ever across all our markets," he said.
"This growth confirms the success of our transformation plan and how it is reflected in our region," he added. "Our business is becoming stronger thanks to the ongoing commitment of our dealers, and of course thanks to the outstanding new products that we have launched recently that clearly set the trend for what to expect from Ford Motor Company in terms of industry leading quality, safety, technology and value for money," Murad added.
Ford's GCC growth was mainly driven by demand across the range of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products, with nearly 30 per cent increase in passenger cars, led by the all-new Fiesta, Fusion and Taurus while utility vehicles were up by nearly 60 per cent across the range with star performers across the SUVs and crossovers alike.
Other growth markets from the region included Saudi Arabia and Qatar which registered a 75 per cent increase over Q1 last year. In Kuwait, trucks and SUVs recorded a 40 per cent hike thanks to all-time favourites Explorer, Expedition, Mountaineer and Navigator, while the all-new Fusion and Taurus models proved to be among the favourites in the passenger car lineup.