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When losing USD1,400 million is a reason to crack open the fizz

Editorial Staff

It might sound ridiculous but when Ford announced today that it had lost "only" USD 1,400 million people were happy. For they had expected it to lose more.

It's nowhere near the now forgotten days of November 2005 - remember those? They were supposedly before the tough times hit. Then General Motors announced a staggering USD44,000 (approx) loss for every minute of the year to that point. A remarkable total of USD4,800 million would be the Q4 losses bringing the total annual loss to USD8,600 million.

It would, it said, stay in business but it would cut 25% of its US workforce. Does anyone know what happened to those plans?

Ford is still not holding out its hand for government support. It's not being pushed towards insolvency. It has sold Jaguar and Land Rover and Aston Martin and reportedly Volvo is on the block, too.

In the Europe its current range of cars is way above Ford's traditional bottom-feeding position and provider of rep-mobiles. They are actually good to look at and have a feel of quality that is, simply, not far adrift from BMW. Rightly, they have abandoned the large car market in Europe - they used to have an excellent one but then the American designers tried to make a world car and ruined it. In the US, Ford is still not quite on the pace. But it is getting there.

It's the one of the USA's big three that, five years ago, may have looked the most likely to fail. Now, it's looking like it might be the only one to survive. Weakened, but alive.

And why break out the fizz?

In October 2006 it reported that in the previous quarter it lost USD5,800 million. So incredibly, in the middle of the worst recession the car industry has ever seen (it wasn't really an industry in the 1930s) it's doing only a quarter as badly as it was doing before things started to go awfully wrong.