Ford Brakes, Toyota Accelerates in Carmaker Race

22 July 2004

The world's second largest carmaker Toyota has increased its lead over American rival Ford Motor Company and is expected to maintain its pole position as the most profitable.

The Japanese auto giant overtook Ford last year with net profits more than double its nearest rival. And this year's sales are proving just as strong – forecasts have been revised to 7.39 million vehicles, up 9% from last year.

Ford, meanwhile, has slipped further behind with a second quarter pre-tax loss of $57m (€46.4m; £31m) at its automotive unit.

The troubled American automaker has been hit hard by the success of Toyota, losing market share in the US and Europe where Toyota is building new factories amid plans to take 15% of the global market over the next decade.

Ford's chief financial officer, Don Leclair is keen to focus on the positive and is sticking to carmaking pre-tax profit targets of $1bn for the year.

It's not all bad news for Ford, although the happier tidings derive from an unexpected source. Financial unit Ford Credit scored a record net profit of $897m in Q2, tripling the company's overall net revenues versus the same period last year.

Says Leclair, "you see continued strong performance in financial services and significant progress at Ford Europe, where actions we took last year have begun to pay off."

Data sourced from: Financial Times and BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff