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US Ford chief enters currency debate

A senior Ford executive has entered the exchange rate/Euro debate – complaining that Europe- and Japan-based carmakers have a major profit advantage on the US car market.

Speaking in a teleconference with institutional investors in Madrid, Ford vice president Malcolm Macdonald said that the foreign-based carmakers “benefit from having a currency work in their favour”.

"There's a certain irony in that the Japanese auto industry makes all their money today in the United States. They lose money in their domestic market," said Macdonald. He was responding to questions as to how companies like Toyota and Honda have been able to grab U.S. market share from companies like Ford.

Although the weak euro was also highlighted as a problem for US-based carmakers, Ford and other US carmakers have saved most of their scorn for the yen. Earlier this year both Ford and General Motors pointed out that the weakness of the Japanese currency gave their carmakers an 30 per cent profit advantage over their US counterparts.

"If, for example, the U.S., because of the enormous current account deficit, were to have the dollar weaken, you could quite dramatically see a change," he said.

"Either the Japanese margins and their profitability would deteriorate substantially, or I think you would see their (U.S. market) share go to hell if they tried to price for currency," Macdonald said.

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