The driving force behind the Ford Motor Company is promising the company's fortunes will turn a corner within the next six months.

The US auto giant's ceo, Bill Ford, whose three year tenure has seen the company's share of US new vehicle sales fall to 19.7% from 23.2% - a slide of 3.5 points - is determined to slash incentives and discounts as Ford banks on the appeal of new models. Average discounts for Ford vehicles since 2001 have been $3,611 (€2,793, £1,954).

Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda have kept their incentives to an average of less than $1,000 per vehicle. As a result drivers feel the overseas brands offer better value for money [WAMN: 26-Aug-2004].

In a frank admission Ford says sales performance has declined because it has tried to compete using old designs that fail to offer consumers choice.

He adds: "When you're trying to compete in a car segment with an old Taurus and not a whole lot else ... it's tough to keep sales up, even with big incentives."

Ford, the great-grandson of the legendary Henry, is optimistic about prospects for next year: "We have the product now to go after share where we didn't before."

The company is pinning its hopes on seven new models including the redesigned Ford Mustang, Escape hybrid sport-utility vehicle and Five Hundred flagship sedan.

Data sourced from USA Today Online; additional content by WARC staff