Great Wall Motor Co., China’s top seller of sport-utility vehicles, has the most traction among the country’s carmakers with global ambitions, the head of Ford Motor Co. (F:US)’s Asia region said.
“The one that’s probably one to watch is Great Wall,” David Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific, told reporters yesterday at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. “They seem to be coming up with good designs, quality. They’ve started to export.”
Chairman Wei Jianjun, Asia’s wealthiest car executive, has signaled Great Wall will eventually outsell Chrysler’s Jeep globally and wants to double sales over three years to 1.3 million vehicles by 2015. Ford is on a growth path of its own in China. The company expects to double its quarterly market share in less than two years.
Ford’s target is to capture 5 percent of the Chinese market during the fourth quarter, Schoch said. The No. 2 U.S. automaker had just 2.5 percent share in the country in the first quarter of 2012. Deliveries in China surged 51 percent through 2013’s first nine months to 647,849, according to a company statement.
Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally set a plan with Executive Chairman Bill Ford to build up the company’s Asia presence before agreeing to leave Boeing Co. for Ford in 2006. Ford vehicles assembled in Asia now outnumber those built in Europe for the first time. By 2015, Ford will have the capacity to produce more cars and trucks in Asia than it made last year in North America.
“As I look at the business plan that we’re working on now, and I take a look beyond that, it raises the question: ‘Do we need more capacity?’” Schoch said of Ford’s plans beyond 2015.
Ford intends to build 8 million vehicles worldwide by midway through this decade, up from about 6 million this year, John Fleming, Ford’s executive vice president of global manufacturing, told reporters earlier this week. The company is slated to open nine factories from this year through 2015, including five in China and two in India.
Ford was a latecomer in China, forming its first passenger-vehicle joint venture there six years behind General Motors Co. (GM:US) and more than a decade after Volkswagen AG. (VOW) Those companies remain the established leaders among foreign automakers.
Ford has joint ventures in China with Changan Automobile Co. for passenger cars and Jiangling Motors Corp. for commercial vehicles. Ford has no plans to change its venture partners in the country, Schoch said.
Capturing a bigger slice of Asian markets is crucial to Ford because of its heavy investments in the region. Ford has said that it’s spending $4.9 billion to expand its lineup and double production capacity just in China.
Ford has forecast a profit from Asia-Pacific operations this year after losing $77 million last year. By contrast, the company earned a record $8.34 billion in North America in 2012.
Ford rose 0.7 percent to $16.62 at the close in New York yesterday. The shares have gained 28 percent this year, outpacing the 16 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500.
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