High demand drives surge
By Yu Qiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-08 08:49

Both Ford Motor and BMW AG posted blistering increases in China sales on Friday for the first half of this year, powered by strong demand in the world's No 3 vehicle market.

Combined sales of Ford and its affiliate brands Lincoln, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover doubled year-on-year to 74,395 units from January to June, the Detroit-based auto group said in a statement.

BMW said its first-half sales on the Chinese mainland surged by 78.4 per cent to 16,833 cars.

Their strong performance came amid robust demand from Chinese buyers.

According to data provided by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers on Friday, overall sales of domestically made vehicles gained 26.71 per cent to 3.54 million units in the first half.

Meanwhile, sales of passenger vehicles basic cars, sport utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles and mini-vans jumped by 36.53 per cent to 2.51 million units.

"Ford Motor China has successfully maintained a strong sales growth momentum over the past two years despite the intensifying competition in the market," said Cheng Meiwei, chairman of Ford Motor China.

"The success is good proof of our continuous strengthening of product line-up and our products' increasing popularity among Chinese customers," Cheng said.

China sales of Ford brand vehicles, both locally made and imported, rocketed by 105.5 per cent to 68,908 units from January to June.

Ford's joint venture with its Japanese unit Mazda Motor and China's Chang'an Motor sold 56,417 Ford cars in the period, surging 136.6 per cent.

"With more new and upgraded car models to be launched in the second half of the year, I'm fully confident that Chang'an Ford Mazda (the venture) will meet or even exceed its sales target set for the year 2006," Cheng said.

The venture in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality aims to double sales in 2006 from 61,013 units last year. Ford said the venture would expand its dealerships to 200 by the end of this year from 170 now.

The venture will assemble a Volvo S40 sedan later this year.

A Ford China spokesman said Mazda would reveal its first-half results for China soon. The Japanese firm, one-third owned by Ford, also has a joint venture with China's First Automotive Works Corp.

BMW said its first-half sales on the mainland included 10,562 units of the 3 and 5 Series sedans built at its joint venture with Brilliance China Auto in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. The venture's sales grew by half from a year ago.

Earlier this week, General Motors, Volkswagen and PSA Peugeot Citroen reported strong January-June sales growth in China.

PSA Peugeot Citroen on Friday also announced that it would build a new 150,000-unit plant with China's Dongfeng Motor as part of their joint venture.

The new plant, to be located in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, will begin producing the French carmaker's large-sized sedans in 2009.

The Sino-French joint venture's existing plant in Wuhan is making small and medium-sized cars.

The venture sold 100,173 cars in the first half of this year, an increase of 38 per cent from the same period of last year.

(For more biz stories, please visit Industry Updates)


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