Ford is looking at expanding into Iraq despite ongoing concerns about security and stability in the country.
"The biggest opportunity coming up is Iraq. The stability and security is still an issue but that is a growth market, especially as hopefully the situation improves and they have great plans to increase oil output. It'll be a long-term opportunity, but it's out there. We see it as a big opportunity longer term," said Larry Prein, managing director of Ford Middle East.
Ford currently has one dealership in the country and is working with them to make a mark in Iraq.
Prein said that the company also plans to expand in Saudi Arabia next year. "We've seen stability in most markets in the Middle East and growth in some markets like Saudi Arabia," he said.
The carmaker is enjoying good sales in the Middle East. Ford and Lincoln sales were up 55 per cent year on year while in the UAE they reported increases of over 30 per cent. "The new products we've brought out have been well accepted. A lot of it is also by word of mouth. Ford is doing well around the world," said Prein.
In the UAE the Edge and Explorer are their most popular models with around 70,000 sales this year. According to Prein, Ford sales will reach their 2008 levels by next year. "From a car sales standpoint we will do almost as well as we did in 2008. We'll do better than 2008 next year," he said.
"We're working closely with our dealerships. Al Tayer [Motors] has opened a new dealership in Ras Al Khaimah this year, in Fujairah they opened a new service outlet in Al Qubaisi. They're working on a new body shop. We're trying to make sure we have the right customer convenience throughout the region. We're handling it on a country by country and case by case basis," he added.
Elsewhere, the American car manufacturer has seen disruption in certain Middle Eastern markets such as Syria and Bahrain.
"Syria has been affected heavily. We've stopped our distribution there in line with President Obama's executive order of August 18. Syria had significant sales but we were still limited to selling mostly non-North American products. Even before the executive order there were limitations on the amount of US content that could be sold on the vehicles there. Bahrain was also impacted. Otherwise we haven't seen a lot of impact in most of our markets," said Prein.
The company is also waiting to find out how much the recent flooding in Bangkok will affect their supply chain.
"Some suppliers are in the impacted area so we are still waiting to get a better assessment of how much damage they've had and what type of impact it's had on production if any. Right now it's been minimal for us. We expect some kind of impact but it's not going to be significant for us," said Prein.