August 21, 2007 / 7:41 PM / 12 years ago

Ford mulls exporting cars to South America

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) is considering exporting more North American-built vehicles to South America to meet growing demand, Dominic DiMarco, president of Ford’s South American division, said on Tuesday.

A blue pickup leaves Ford Motor Company world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan in this August 17, 2001 file photo. Ford Motor Co <F.N> is considering exporting more North American-built vehicles to South America to meet growing demand, Dominic DiMarco, president of Ford's South American division, said on Tuesday. REUTERS/John C. Hillery/Files

“We are looking at different options,” DiMarco said in an interview, adding that Ford has not made a decision yet.

DiMarco said South America’s auto market was growing fast, especially in Brazil and Argentina, but the automaker’s future market share growth there may be constrained by lack of capacity.

“If the industry keeps growing, we might see some near-term constraint due to capacity,” DiMarco said.

Ford’s South American market share has grown to 12 percent this year from 8.4 percent in 2000. In stark contrast, Ford has lost 1 percentage point of U.S. market share each year since 2000, and it is tracking this year at 16.4 percent.

The automaker is in the midst of closing 16 plants in North America to better align its capacity with declining U.S. demand for its vehicles.

Ford has been exporting its Mexican-built Fusion mid-size sedan since June 2006. The U.S. automaker also sells its North American-built Mustang sports car and Explorer and Expedition sports utility vehicles in small volumes in South America.

DiMarco said Ford has taken a number of steps to solve its capacity problems, including a $156.5 million investment in Argentina to begin production of a new car and pick-up truck targeting the South American market.

Ford is the fourth-largest automaker in South America in volume, behind rival General Motors Corp (GM.N), Germany’s Volkswagen AG (VOWG.DE) and Fiat SpA FIA.MI.

Last year, Ford made $661 million before taxes in South America, up 65 percent from 2005. In North America, Ford lost nearly $16 billion in 2006.

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