Since November 2009, China is the world’s top car market, surpassing the US. So it’s only natural for automakers to pay their utmost attention. Among others, BMW previewed the new M5, Peugeot the 508, Nissan the new Tiida and Audi the Q3 at the Shangai Motor Show . The most recent example is Ford, which is planning to more than double its model line-up in the Chinese market according to a senior company executive.
“If you think of the marker as small cars, medium cars, large cars, SUVs, performance vehicles, all those different pieces, we compete in about 22% of that market today,” Will Periam, strategy director for Ford’s Asia Pacific and Africa, told Reuters during a recent industry forum in the Chinese city of Tianjin.
“In the future, we expect to compete in about 50%. And that will be by new versions of the products we have and all-new products which aren’t here today,” he added.
Periam also revealed that most of the models that Ford plans to introduce to China, such as the new Focus sedan and the Kuga, will be built at its local plant.
Ford is currently manufacturing the Focus, Mondeo, C-MAX and Fiesta in cooperation with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. and Mazda Motoe, and its Transit van with Jianling Motors, in which Ford has a 30% stake.
However, Ford missed last year’s boom when a record 18 million vehicles were sold in China, thanks in no small part to government tax incentives and subsidies. But this year the incentive plan has ended and the booming Chinese market has seen its booming sales rate decrease.
Secretary General of China Association of Automobile Manufactures reduced his estimate for 2011 sales growth considerably, from a 10-15% forecast to just 5%. Even so, Ford has increased this year its January to July sales by 13%, to 306,830 vehicles, compared to the same period in 2010, and Ford’s Periam estimates that China car sales will reach 32 million by 2020.