China: Ford ready to play in the major league, reports record January sales image

Ford, the second largest US automaker, is a late-comer in China – the world’s biggest auto market – but that hasn’t deferred the carmaker from aggressively pushing its brand in the country.

The Detroit-based company even brought Lincoln along last year in a bid to secure a foothold in the rapidly rising luxury segment as well. Now the pressure has paid off, with Ford saying that its January sales reached a new record of 112,599 deliveries. That would be a 19 percent jump from the same period a year ago as the automaker is pushing its presence in a bid to catch up the top competitors – Volkswagen and General Motors – even as the market faces a forecasted slowdown. Industry observers and the carmakers have forecasted the Chinese market to slow its growth to around 7 percent this year from 14 % in 2013 as the overall economy is expected to rise at the slowest pace since the 1990s. For example, GM didn’t manage to gain momentum last month, with deliveries falling 2.4% to 339,781 vehicles – but the US brand did have a 32% jump in December and surged 12 percent overall in 2014.

Ford reported that its best joint venture was the one with Changan Ford Automobile – claiming its best January ever at 83,225 units, a rise of 19%. As far as models are concerned, new Escort, Mondeo and Focus – all locally produced cars – were the main contributors to the record sales last month. After Mustang sales commenced last month, together with the Edge, Focus ST, Explorer and Fiesta ST, they lifted the imported segment of the brand by 18 percent. Ford also said that after imports and sales of the Lincoln brand began in the latter part of 2014, the dealerships that already started operating have yielded strong positive results. The commercial side of the business – Jiangling Motors – has also reported strong gains with 26,359 units sold last month, up 21 percent from the figures seen in January 2014, buoyed by continued demand for the Transit full-size van.