DEARBORN – As Ford of China released September sales results earlier this month, David Schoch, Ford group vice president and president Asia Pacific region, was on hand at World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. to provide local media with an in-person update on what’s happening in China.
Key to any conversation about Ford in China is growth. According to Schoch, sales in China are up 51 percent for the first three-quarters of 2013. September sales are up 61 percent over September 2012 and Focus continues to be the sales leader while demand for SUVs and premium models also continues to expand.
With the Ford EcoSport and Ford Kuga now available in China and Ford Edge and Ford Explorer as well thanks to exportation, Ford is now able to offer a full family of SUVs to meet growing demand. On the luxury front, Ford continues to prepare to introduce Lincoln in China by fourth quarter 2014.
Increased demand for vehicles throughout the Asia Pacific region is generating the need for growth. Schoch said 74 percent of vehicles sold in China are sold to first time buyers.
“It’s a real celebration,” Schoch said. “Can you remember when you bought your first car and how you felt? This is how all of China is feeling.”
Estimates showing the rise in potential buyers throughout the remainder of the decade are astounding. In 2010 there were 715 million potential new vehicle buyers in China according to industry forecasts. By 2020, the forecasts estimate this number to be closer to 1.2 billion. Similar trends can also be seen in other Asia Pacific regions as well.
To meet this burgeoning demand, Ford has invested in 10 new plants – seven in China, two in India and one in Thailand. Four of these facilities have launched in the last two years with six more on the way. These efforts will raise capacity in the region from 1.5 million units in 2011 to 2.9 million units by mid-decade.
Ford is dedicated to staying on top of this growth curve and is well on its way to meeting the goal to bring 50 new vehicles and powertrains to Asia Pacific by mid-decade including the introduction of 15 new cars and SUVs to China by 2015.
“Just one year ago Ford dealerships in China featured only Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo,” Schoch said. “Now we are able to offer a full family of vehicles including our SUVs and ST models.”
To provide another measure of success, Schoch shared that in early 2012 Ford had captured 2.5 percent of the total vehicle market share in China. By the end of the third quarter of 2013, Ford market share had jumped to 4.7 percent and the goal is to reach the 5 percent mark by year end.
More importantly, Schoch expects Ford’s Asia Pacific region to be profitable in 2013 and to become a major contributor to Ford profits by 2015.