Geneva: Major automakers kept inventory management and calls for extra financial help on the agenda on Tuesday, as the annual Geneva Motor Show opened to the media amid plunging car sales and the continuing financial crisis. Ford in Europe will continue to review its production capacity and all cost areas, the regional chief executive, John Fleming, said on Monday.
After the collapse of European and other auto markets, now we are worried that there is too much capacity and not enough demand, Fleming said. He also called for more leadership from the European Union to address the industry downturn, sparked by a slump in consumer confidence and a credit squeeze.
Volkswagen’s Audi unit said its sales worldwide were down 11% in February at 63,000 vehicles and it planned to produce 12,500 fewer cars as it sees 2009 sales down 10%.
Volkswagen head Martin Winterkorn nevertheless said the group would be profitable in 2009. That is my assumption, yes, he told reporters at a show event on Monday evening, declining to say how big a profit he expected.
A senior Nissan executive said late on Monday that group projects in Europe had been judged eligible for financial support of up to 400 million euros ($505 million), in the first stage of a process that could lead to funding.
Nissan Europe’s senior vice president for administration and finance, Eric Nicolas, also said the Japanese group is on track with its inventory reduction targets and other full year objectives.
Meanwhile Toyota is looking to increase its market share in Europe this year to 6 % from last year’s level of 5.3%, in a falling market.
Nissan also said on Tuesday it would build its new compact NV200 van at its Barcelona plant for the European market, with sales of the light commercial vehicle (LCV) to start in the second half of 2009.
Unveiling the model in a world premiere at the show, Japan’s third-biggest automaker said it aimed to sell 150,000 NV200s globally. The van will go on sale first in the Japanese market this spring, Senior Vice President Andy Palmer said. As C02 legislation tightens and companies are granted massive sums to speed up research into greener vehicle technologies the spotlight at the Geneva show this year has been put on green technologies and the industry’s longer term prospects, with a Green Pavilion set up to showcase various electric and hybrid vehicle concept cars.