US automaker Ford Motor Co has forecasted a $2bn loss in Europe this year, hurt by a recession that could drive down industry sales in the region beyond 2012's nearly 20-year low.

Ford said on Tuesday its sales outlook was deteriorating in Europe and the 2013 loss would be worse than the $1.75bn deficit in 2012. The automaker is closing plants and slashing costs.

By contrast, Ford, the number two US automaker, expects to earn more money in North America in 2013 and forecast 10 percent margins.

North America was its chief source of strength last year and helped it to beat Wall Street estimates in the fourth quarter.

Still, the overall outlook was weaker than some analysts expected. The shares fell 5.7 percent to $12.99, its sharpest drop since August 2011.

In South America and Asia, Ford expects to break even this year.

'Machine is broken'

Ford said industry sales last year in the 19 markets it tracks in Europe were the lowest since 1995.

 Ford announced last year that it will shut down 
its factory in Genk, Belgium by 2014

"We're likely to see, in the euro zone, a recession for the full year," Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told reporters after the company reported quarterly results.

"Clearly we still have some difficult times in front of us [in Europe]," Shanks said. "But we do think it will probably bottom this year."

Unlike Fiat-Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne, who spoke alarmingly at the Detroit auto show that "the machine is broken" in Europe, Shanks believes there is still hope.

"It is possible to restructure the industry in Europe, but it will probably need fewer employees because there is excess capacity there," he told the Reuters news agency in a telephone interview.

"The harder things are just beginning."

Ford announced plans in October to close two plants in Britain and one in Belgium as part of a massive shake-up that includes the loss of 13 percent of the US automaker's European workers, some 6,200 jobs.

Source: Agencies