So far, Ford is having a breakneck year in Europe, thanks to strong demand for its Fiesta hatchback, Focus compact and Kuga (Escape) compact SUV. The U.S. automaker said its European sales jumped 12.5 percent for the first three months of the year amid a series of new models.

"Overall, this is one of our strongest years ever for new vehicle launches, with about half of our sales volume coming from new, significantly freshened models being launched in 2015," Peter Fleet, vice president of sales for Ford of Europe, said in a statement Tuesday. Ford has been closing plants in the economically struggling region in an effort to cut costs while vying for greater market share buy rolling out its new EcoBoost engines that have lured fuel-conscious European car buyers.

The efforts seem to be paying off. Spurred in part by demand for the new Ford Focus ST, and new Transit vans, the automaker sold 335,089 vehicles in its 20-nation European region in the first quarter, a 12.5 percent increase from the year-ago period. For March, Ford reported a 14.4 percent sales jump to 168,400 and recently surpassed its German rival Volkswagen to become the top seller of commercial vans.

The company will soon begin selling its all-new C-Max and Galaxy models, as well as the Ford Vignale Mondeo (basically a fancy Ford Fusion). The 2015 Ford Mustang will also go to Europe this summer, a first in the model’s 50-year history.

Europe’s struggling economy is expected to grow slightly this year, which is welcome news to automakers who have been grappling with low demand and overproduction -- and offering high discounts to lure cash-strapped buyers. Sales in the region rebounded slightly in 2014 for the first time since the Great Recession of 2007-09, by 5.6 percent to 12.56 million, but the numbers still remain well below the 15.6 million vehicles sold in the European Union in 2008.