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Ford chiefs upbeat about recovery plan

Ford has said it is on track to return to profit in 2009.

Bill Ford, chairman and Alan Mulally, CEO, told an audience at the Detroit Motor Show this week the initiatives they put in place last year are starting to pay dividends.

Ford said: “We took four major initiatives last year, building a strong global marketing position; globalising product development; sustainability; and attacking the cost structure. We’ve made real progress on all four fronts.”

Mulally said the company was recovering from recent turmoil. “Inside Ford, things feel very different to a year ago,” he said. In particular, 2008 will see six major north American product launches, and 70% of the models in US showrooms will be new cars by the end of the year.

These include the F-150 pick-up; the Flex large SUV; and Verve small car, the replacement for the Focus, shown at Detroit for the first time in four-door saloon guise. The three-door hatchback Verve (Fiesta replacement), seen at Frankfurt last year, also made an appearance.

The Verve will be sold worldwide and of Ford’s globalised product development plan. The US-spec four-door will also form the basis of an emerging markets car for Asian markets. Meanwhile Ford will also sell hatchback Verve in the US.

Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of marketing and communications, said: "We make the best small cars in Europe, now it’s the US’s turn to have them. “Verve is a concept but a pretty clear window into our future and a very significant car for Ford.”

Ford's new Verve hatchback will replace the Fiesta.

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