General Motors and Ford Motor, US automakers trying to boost the results of their European units, are moving to break even or turn a profit in the market this year amid the continent's economic problems, executives said.
"This time two years ago our operations in Europe were in severe difficulty, losing a lot of money," Nick Reilly, president GM Eur-ope, told reporters at the Frankfurt motor show. "Two years later, the atmosphere is totally different."
GM, based in Detroit, is trying to end losses in Europe, which have totalled $14.5 billion (Dh53.25 billion) since 1999. Ford's surprise $51 million pre-tax loss in Europe in 2010's fourth quarter began a 40 per cent slide in its share price this year through Tuesday. Pre-tax profit in Ford's European operations plunged 45 per cent to $176 million in this year's second quarter.
"Wall Street expects you to be making profit all over the world, including Eur-ope," Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive, said in an interview on the floor of the auto show.
The efforts by GM and Ford come as Europe has become entangled in concerns about sovereign debt, including a possible default in Greece which has imperiled the stability of the euro.
"We're worried, yes," Reilly said. "Having said that, so far we have seen no impact on our order intake."
GM's goal for Europe is to be "profitable by just better than break-even before restructuring charges", Reilly said.
"In 2012, we won't have those restructuring charges. They're mostly done. We'll get the full 12-month benefit of the restructuring that we've done." Those operations include Opel, which should turn a "healthy profit" next year, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, head of Opel and Vauxhall, told reporters.
The company's European operations earned $102 million before taxes and interest in the second quarter following a first-quarter loss of $390 million, including a writedown of goodwill. Without that cost, GM's European operations would have generated a first-quarter profit of $5 million.
GM's Europe sales increased 7.7 per cent to 912,000 during the first six months from the first half of 2010. That increased its market share in Europe to 8.8 per cent from 8.7 per cent. The gain was largely driven by sales increases in Germany and Russia.
The company, which went through a US bankruptcy reorganisation in 2009, also revamped its European operations, including paring production capacity by 20 per cent, closing a plant in Belgium and cutting 8,000 jobs.