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Ford Motor is on track to double the number of dealerships in China by 2015, its country chief said yesterday, according to a report in Gulf News.com. The company recently launched its half-a-billion-dollar plant in a race to narrow the gap with foreign rivals in the world’s largest auto market.

Ford, which unveiled the new Focus at the opening of a plant in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, is adding an average of two outlets a week to bring the total to 680 by 2015, David Schoch, chairman and CEO of Ford’s China operations was quoted saying.

“Obviously, it’s not only important for us to grow the production capacity and get the new products in, but we have to improve the retail distribution network,” Schoch told Reuters.

Ford, which steered clear of a bankruptcy filing and US government bailout in 2009, is a relatively late-comer in China, where General Motors and Volkswagen have built a sizeable lead.

It sold 320,658 vehicles in China last year, compared with Volkswagen’s annual tally of 2.26 million and GM’s 2.55 million.

In an effort to narrow the gap, Ford plans to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015, starting with the new Focus, which is scheduled to hit showrooms across China in the second quarter.

The introduction of new models, said Will Periam, strategy director for Ford’s Asia Pacific and Africa operations, will enable Ford to compete in about 50 per cent of the overall market segments in China, up sharply from 22 per cent.

Schoch said the US automaker also aims to outpace the Chinese market, which he expects will increase between 5 to 10 per cent this year despite a steep downturn in January.

Full story at Gulf News.com

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