The race for the top positions among foreign brands is starting to heat up in China, with Ford outselling South Korea’s Hyundai for the first time during the first quarter.
The world’s largest automotive market has been the place to go for global automakers seeking to deliver outstanding growth in the past few years, as the Chinese sales have seen double-digit annual gains until last year. Now, Ford, the second largest US automaker and a late “bloomer” on the Chinese market is seeking to close in on the ranks of the top three foreign brands – after passing over fourth-placed Hyundai Motor during the first three months of the year. Ford is just shy of the podium now, occupied by Volkswagen AG, General Motors and Japan’s Nissan. Ford’s deliveries during the first quarter that ended March 31 soared 9.4 percent to 296,825 units, shining past Hyundai’s tally of 282,305 autos during the same timeframe – with data provided by the two companies also showing the South Korean automaker had a 2 percent regression in volume.
Even as the world’s second biggest economy is expected to grow at the slowest pace since 1990, the global powerhouses are still expanding their production facilities to increase capacity in China – which still has millions of first-time buyers and a rapidly increasing replacement demand. Ford in March just inaugurated its fourth passenger-car factory and has announced plans that one of its joint ventures will buyout and refresh another. The automaker has also promised to deliver 15 new models in the upcoming months, with the first being the new Taurus sedan, scheduled to appear at the upcoming Shanghai auto show.