Ford Canada sees bigger piece of automotive pie

Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:51pm EST
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's Canadian subsidiary has enough cash to ride out the industry's steep downturn and is well positioned to emerge from the crisis with an enlarged market share, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Ford has secured a line of credit of up to C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) with the governments of Canada and the province of Ontario that it can draw on if market conditions worsen. But David Mondragon, on the sidelines of the Canadian International Autoshow in Toronto, said in an interview that the company doesn't think it will need the aid.

Industrywide sales in Canada plunged 25 percent in January, on top of declines of 21 percent in December and 10 percent November.

During those three months, Ford Canada managed to gain market share and outsell Toyota Canada, a feat that Mondragon described as "a pretty big deal."

The company's sales in Canada fell 14.1 percent in January and 6 percent in December. They rose 1 percent in November.

During those months, Ford Canada's market share rose to around 14 percent from an average 12.5 percent in 2008.

"We feel like we are well positioned right now," said Mondragon. "If you can stabilize or grow share in a declining market, when the business starts to strengthen, then you've got a bigger piece of the pie that you can expand faster."

Even so, with capacity so far out of line with current demand, the company will need concessions from labor if it is to keep manufacturing vehicles in Canada, Mondragon said.   Continued...