(Courtesy of The Detroit News)
Year-to-date figures up 11%; work on new India plant begins
Ford Motor Co.’s global efforts took a hit in China with an uncharacteristic drop in August auto sales in the world’s most important market.
Ford is focusing global expansion efforts in China and India, the fastest-growing regions. The Dearborn automaker sold almost 35,000 vehicles in China last month, which is a 7 percent decline from a year ago in a country that is experiencing a slowdown in its blistering sales pace.
The results released Tuesday came a day after the groundbreaking of a new plant in India.
Year-to-date, Ford Motor China sales are almost 342,000, which is 11 percent higher than a year ago.
“Although the growth rate in China has contracted in recent months, we are thankful that customers continue to value the technologically advanced, fuel-efficient, high-quality vehicles Ford offers here,” said Nigel Harris, vice president of Ford China distribution operations.
Changan Ford Mazda Automobile is Ford’s joint-venture partner in China and accounts for the bulk of its wholesale units. Ford’s commercial vehicle joint venture is with Jiangling Motors Corp.
The U.S. automaker continues to invest in China. With its partners, Ford has two vehicle assembly plants under development.
The one in Chongqing is slated to start production next year, and a plant in Nanchang will be ready in 2013. Additionally, engine and transmission plants are being developed in Chongqing.
After China, the next biggest market is India, where Ford is investing $1 billion on new vehicle and engine assembly plants in Sanand, Gujarat. Initially, they’ll make 240,000 vehicles and 270,000 engines annually when production begins in 2014. The project will create 5,000 jobs, according to a company statement Monday.
“This is an investment in the future of Ford globally,” said Joe Hinrichs, president, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, in a statement.
“These new, state-of-the-art facilities will help us reach the goal of increasing worldwide sales by nearly 50 percent by mid-decade to 8 million vehicles per year,” he said.
“We are aggressively expanding in markets around the world that have the most growth potential, in order to offer more of the fuel-efficient, high-quality vehicles from our global portfolio that customers in markets like India want and value.”
Michael Boneham, president of Ford India, said that with the groundbreaking, “Ford is planting the seeds for a prosperous future in Sanand for our future employees, suppliers, dealers and customers. Today is another milestone and reinforces our commitment to aggressively grow the Ford brand in India and offer a full range of exciting, fuel-efficient vehicles to Indian customers.”
Earlier this year, Ford announced an investment of $72 million by 2012 to expand its powertrain facility in Chennai. Ford’s total investment in India to date is approximately $2 billion.
The Ford Focus remains popular in India, exceeding 10,000 sales monthly, while the new Ford Mondeo with EcoBoost is also winning customers with a 10 percent increase in sales for the first nine months of the year, Ford reported.
Last year, Ford announced that it will bring eight new vehicles to India by mid-decade, starting with the Fiesta, which was launched in July.
Ford plans to increase its sales and service network to 200 outlets by end of the year.