Speaking at an event in India during which the company unveiled a new car for the Asian market, Ford boss Alan Mulally delivered a rather tepid and uncontroversial statement: that U.S. car demand has been showing signs of recovery, and that car sales stateside would increase over the next two years.
It would, however, prove difficult for car sales not to rise over the next two years. After all, they had fallen earlier this year to levels last experienced during the late Carter administration.
But investors, still hankering for good automobile news of any sort, bid up shares of last-man-standing-in-Detroit Ford by 5% Wednesday. The stock was changing hands late morning at $7.40, up 39 cents, on volume of 50 million shares. Average daily turnover is about 77 million shares.Ever since cash-for-clunkers, the domestic car business has been extruding intermittent signs of recovery. Mulally's words follow news from General Motors Tuesday that it plans to lift production at three of its plants in order to meet demand for some of its models and alleviate a burgeoning inventory shortage. Mulally and other Ford brass were in New Dehli to announce the coming production of the Figo, a small car that Ford will market all over Asia and yet another indication that the company will increasingly cast its lot with smaller, more energy-efficient vehicles. According to reports, Mulally said at the Figo unveiling that Ford expects the small-car segment to double within the next 10 years.