Ford Motor Co. (F:US)’s China sales surged 45 percent in the first quarter, closing in on Nissan Motor Co. (7201) and Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) in the world’s biggest auto market.
Ford delivered 271,321 vehicles in the country last quarter, the Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker said in a statement today. That’s only about 1 percent shy of Hyundai and 4 percent fewer than Nissan, according to figures reported by the companies this month.
After passing Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) in China for the first time last year, Ford has climbed to within striking distance of becoming the third-largest foreign automaker in the country. While it got a late start in the market relative to General Motors Co. (GM:US) and Volkswagen AG, Ford plans to spend $4.9 billion to double production capacity there and has been expanding faster than any major competitor since mid-2012 thanks to the popularity of its sport utility vehicles and the Focus car.
“Ford expanded their dealer network and put together a strategy to focus on the Chinese market because this is the market that is really growing,” Frank Schwope, a Hanover-based analyst at NordLB, said by telephone. “You have to produce in China to really earn money there, and you have to find joint-venture partners to help you build out those new plants. This is what Ford is doing well now.”
Aside from the Focus, Ford has benefited from demand of new locally manufactured models such as the Kuga and EcoSport SUVs, as well as the Fusion -- called Mondeo in China.
In March, Ford’s deliveries rose 28 percent to a record 103,815 vehicles, exceeding Hyundai’s sales for a second-straight month. Nissan, which has been No. 3 among foreign automakers in China since at least 2009, sold 115,900 units last month.
Total passenger-vehicle sales in China gained 9 percent in March, as consumers brought forth purchases on concern more cities will limit ownership, the Passenger Car Association said today in a statement.
Hangzhou, the capital of eastern Zhejiang province, joined Beijing and Shanghai among Chinese cities to impose quotas on new vehicle purchases, as part of measures to alleviate traffic congestion and air pollution. Consumers are pulling ahead purchases in anticipation more cities will roll out similar steps as local governments respond to Premier Li Keqiang’s call to wage war on smog.
Volkswagen AG (VOW) overtook General Motors Co. last year as the biggest foreign automaker in China.
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