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GM, Ford Set New Sales Records in China

Makers ride popularity of SUVs and luxury cars to new benchmark.

by on Jan.06, 2017

GM Executive Vice President and GM China President Matt Tsien said the automaker's 13 new or refreshed vehicles in China led to record sales this year.

Both General Motors and Ford Motor Co. reported record sales in China during 2016, thanks in part to the growing popularity of American-designed sport-utility vehicles and luxury cars.

Between them the two American giants sold more than 5 million vehicles, claiming more than 20% of the total Chinese market.

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GM and its joint ventures reported delivering a record 3,870,587 vehicles in China in 2016, which was an increase of 7.1% from the previous high in 2015. For all of 2016, Ford Motor Co. sales totaled a best-ever 1.27 million vehicles, 14% higher than 2015.

The Ford total included sales by joint ventures Changan Ford Automobile and Jiangling Motors Corp., sales of Ford models imported to China and Lincoln, which has become the fastest growing luxury brand in China.

Lincoln, which first introduced its full vehicle line-up in China in 2015, sold 32,558 vehicles in 2016, nearly a three-fold increase over 2015. Its strong performance was supported by Chinese customers’ positive reception to Lincoln SUVs and the growing number of dealerships, which reached 65 in 2016.

China remained GM’s largest market in terms of retail sales for the fifth consecutive year, accounting for more than one-third of the company’s global sales.

Lincoln is gaining China by focusing on its dealer experience. It's double-digit sales jump helped Ford to record results.

“GM worked closely with our joint venture partners to achieve launch excellence across all brands in the past year,” said GM Executive Vice President and President of GM China Matt Tsien. “In 2017, we will continue to listen to our customers’ needs and meet their demands with a strong product line-up.”

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Last year, GM launched 13 new and refreshed models in China, putting it on track to fulfill its plan to introduce 60 models through 2020. It is focused on the luxury, SUV and MPV segments. About 40% of GM’s product launches in China through 2020 will be SUVs and MPVs.

With successful launches of the CT6 prestige sedan and XT5 luxury crossover last year, Cadillac deliveries topped 100,000 units in China for the first time – increasing 46% year over year to 116,406 units.

Buick posted record sales, supported by popular products like the Excelle GT sedan and Envision SUV. This drove the brand’s sales to a new high of 1,180,372 units, an increase of 19% on an annual basis.

Chevrolet deliveries, after a rebound starting in the third quarter, reached 525,273 units in 2016. The newly launched Malibu XL, Cruze and Cavalier sedans drove the brand through its model changeover period. GM announced in October that Chevrolet will introduce more than 20 new or refreshed products in China by the end of 2020.

Baojun enjoyed robust momentum in 2016 with strong products like the 730 MPV and 560 SUV, supplemented by the successful launch of the Baojun 310 hatchback. The brand’s annual deliveries rose 49% to a record 688,390 units.

Wuling maintained its dominant position in the mini-commercial vehicle market last year, though its growth was hampered by continued segment contraction. Wuling deliveries totaled 1,359,638 units.

In 2016, GM’s SUV deliveries surged 45% from a year earlier to 673,409 units. Its comprehensive SUV portfolio includes the Buick Envision and Baojun 560, which were among the segment leaders with year-on-year growth of 52% and 116% respectively.

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GM also launched three models with electrification technology in the domestic market in 2016 – the Buick LaCrosse Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu XL Hybrid and Cadillac CT6 Plug-In. In addition, GM will fully localize its battery packs for new energy vehicles via investment in a battery assembly plant in Shanghai through SAIC-GM.

Ford sales surged 23% in China in December, capping a record year for the automaker in the world’s largest new vehicle market.

In December alone, Ford and its joint ventures sold nearly 150,000 vehicles in China, up 21% over 2015. The growth was driven by strong demand for Ford’s expanded lineup of SUVs such as the Ford Edge and Explorer, the Ford Taurus large car, and performance vehicles such as the Ford Mustang.

“We have built some great sales momentum in China, particularly in the second half of 2016, on the strength of our expanded vehicle lineup,” said Peter Fleet, vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service, Asia Pacific. “Record numbers of customers are choosing our three-row Edge crossover, elegant Taurus sedan, Explorer premium SUV and Lincoln luxury vehicles.”

Changan Ford Automobile, Ford’s passenger car joint venture, broke both annual and December sales records. CAF sold more than 957,000 vehicles in 2016, up 14% compared to 2015. December sales totaled more than 115,000 vehicles, a 19% increase compared to December 2015.

Ford’s five-vehicle SUV line-up has been a key driver of sales growth in China. Demand for the Ford Edge and Ford Explorer, for example, rose 123% and 36% respectively in 2016. The Ford Taurus also had its best sales month ever in December and annual sales surpassed 32,000.

Ford performance vehicles continue to attract Chinese customers, with annual sales of the Ford Mustang up 45% and Focus RS and Focus ST sales up 12% for the year. The new Ford Focus and Escort have also remained popular, with sales up 8% and 53% for the small sedans.

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Jiangling Motor Corp., Ford’s other joint venture in China, sold 265,056 vehicles in 2016, a 7% increase compared to 2015. December sales totaled 32,193 vehicles, up 28% compared to December 2015.

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