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Old 09-21-2005, 07:30   #1 (permalink)
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China:Ford China JV sees car sales up 20 percent in 2005

Ford China JV sees car sales up 20 percent in 2005

Reuters

SHANGHAI -- Ford Motor Co.'s main Chinese car venture expects its sales to rise more than 20 percent in 2005, a senior executive said on Wednesday, outpacing the market but lagging some rivals.

"We'll see at least a 20 percent rise in sales this year," said Zou Wenchao, executive vice president of Changan Ford.

Ford sold 53,000 cars in 2004 from Changan Ford, its venture in the southwest of the country with local carmaker Changan Automobile Co. Ltd., Ford spokesman Kenneth Hsu said.

Chinese retail sales for Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, amounted to 33,621 vehicles from January to June, including a small number of imports as well as the joint venture's output.

Ford is a relative latecomer to the hotly competitive Chinese market, which is now led by rivals Volkswagen AG and General Motors.

GM, the world's largest automaker, by contrast sold almost 310,000 vehicles in China in the first half and expects to sell nearly 600,000 this year, up one-fifth on 2004.

Ford's 22 percent jump in first-half sales also pales in comparison to Asian carmakers such as Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd., whose sales at least doubled in the first half. Both carmakers also expect their sales in China to rise more than 50 percent for the full year.

Analysts reckon that China's car market will expand 10 to 15 percent this year, matching growth in 2004 but well off the near-doubling of 2003.

Just 1 percent of Ford's global sales last year came from China, which also contributed less than one-fifth of Asia-Pacific sales.

The company had about 2 percent of the country's car market at the end of 2004, compared to just over one-quarter for market leader Volkswagen.

But Ford intends to invest $1 billion in China in the coming years. It has said it was expanding a plant in Chongqing to give it the capacity to make 200,000 cars a year in 2005.

Along with Japanese partner Mazda Motor Corp. and Chinese partner Changan Auto, Ford is building another factory in the eastern city of Nanjing with initial annual capacity of 160,000, rising to 400,000 eventually.
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