CHINA / Regional

Ford to add 2,000 jobs in China as 1st-qtr sales doubled
Updated: 2006-04-22 16:23

Ford Motor Co., which reported its biggest quarterly loss in more than four years yesterday, said it plans to add 2,000 employees for its ventures in China, where sales more than doubled in the first quarter.

The world's third largest carmaker's sales in China rose about 120 percent, led by a 147 percent increase in Focus compact cars, Mondeos and Fiestas to about 27,000 units, Ford Motor China Ltd.'s Chief Executive Officer Cheng Meiwei said.

"We're hiring because we're in a growth mode," Cheng said in an interview at Boao Forum for Asia in southern China's Hainan island yesterday. He declined to give profit or other performance figures.

Ford's growth in the world's second-biggest automotive market comes as its global revenue fell 9 percent to $41.1 billion in the first quarter.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based company posted a $1.19 billion loss with costs of $1.65 billion related to 30,000 job cuts and 14 plant closings for North America by 2012.

Ford, which announced a $1.5 billion China investment plan in 2003 to take on General Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG, had about 1.5 percent of China's vehicle market last year, compared with Volkswagen's 17.3 percent and General Motors Corp.'s 11 percent.

"Our long-term goal is to become one of the top three automobile manufacturers in China," Cheng said, adding that that would require a 10 percent market share.

Ford's sedan venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., is raising the production capacity at its plant in southwest China's Chongqing city by 33 percent to 200,000 units by May and plans to open a new factory in eastern China's Nanjing city next year.

The 2,000 new employees, to be hired over three years, will mostly be for the Nanjing plant. Ford currently has about 12,000 employees at Changan Ford and at its 30 percent owned Jiangling Motors Corp. in Nanchang, eastern China, which makes Transit vans.

Van sales rose 57 percent to about 6,000 units in the first quarter, Cheng said.


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