By Andrew Ganz
Sunday, Nov 4th, 2012 @ 11:59 am
 

Though both of Detroit's biggest automakers have a long road of recovery ahead of them in Europe, a new report indicates that Ford's position is a bit stronger than General Motors'.

The comparison brings back memories of 2008 and 2009, when Ford narrowly avoided bankruptcy, unlike GM and Chrysler. This time, however, Ford isn't leveraging its iconic blue oval. Instead, the automaker's restructuring plan announced recently is much more aggressive than GM's, a move that analysts say could help it emerge from the European crisis faster.

Ford is planning to close three plants and lay off thousands of workers, but GM's money-losing Opel unit continues to resist making major cuts. Opel has agreed to work with France's PSA - the makers of Peugeot and Citroen - but the cost-cutting moves anticipated by that deal's future platform-sharing won't be realized for several years. In addition, Opel's relationship with its unions in Europe has long proved tenuous, a potentially major hurdle the automaker will have to overcome if it wants to shed jobs and production facilities.

"We hope GM will take similar steps [to Ford]," Fifth Third Bank portfolio manager Mirko Mikelic told Reuters.

Still, both Ford and GM face numerous obstacles to recovery in Europe, where a stagnant economy and increased debt loads are having a measurable impact on new car sales.