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Ford May Cut Production as Chinese Car Market Falters

Domestic Chinese makers gaining ground on foreign rivals.

by on May.26, 2015

Ford recently unveiled its Focus ST in China.

With the economy faltering, the Chinese car market is growing at its slowest rate in 15 years – and Ford Motor Co. says it may respond by trimming production in the once-booming China.

That would be a sudden shift in direction for Ford which, only two months ago, announced the opening of a major new plant in Hangzhou, part of its plan to double production capacity in the populous Asian market to 1.2 million vehicles annually.

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“If there is softness in the market, I won’t let stocks build and we’ll cut production,” said David Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific. So far, he added, “We have had some production cuts, but it’s nothing material.”

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Ford Charges into China with New $760 mil Plant

Ford on the way to becoming China’s fourth-largest carmaker.

by on Mar.24, 2015

The new China plant will initially produce the Ford Edge but will have capacity for five other models.

Late to the Chinese party, Ford Motor Co. is playing a fast-paced game of catch-up. The Detroit maker’s latest move comes with the opening of a new, $760 million assembly plant in Hangzhou, about 100 miles southwest of Shanghai.

The new facility will bring to 1.2 million Ford’s rated annual capacity in China, and could position the company as the market’s fourth-largest manufacturer. But the Hangzhou plant opens just as the Chinese car market begins to cool, along with the rest of the economy, for the first time in more than a decade.

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Nonetheless, Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was on hand for the Tuesday plant dedication, was optimistic, declaring, “This world-class facility will help us accelerate the delivery of high-quality, innovative products to our customers in China.”

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GM Wants to Regain Sales Crown in China

Maker plans $12 billion investment; 4 new plants, 60 new vehicles.

by on Apr.21, 2014

The Chevrolet Trax makes its Beijing debut.

For General Motors, the Beijing Auto Show brings both some good news and bad: on the positive side, the Chinese market continues to defy skeptics who worry the country’s economy is cooling – but the downside is that the U.S. maker is now struggling in second place, behind German rival Volkswagen AG, after years as the sales leader in the world’s largest automotive market.

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That’s something GM doesn’t take lightly, the company’s second-in-command, President Dan Ammann, using the Beijing Auto Show to announce yet another major expansion plan.

Expect to see GM boost its capacity in China to 5 million new vehicles annually as it pushes ahead with an aggressive $12 billion expansion plan that includes the construction of four new assembly plants and a new engine plant over the next two years.

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GM, VW Battle for Dominance in China

Chinese market regains momentum after showing signs of a slump.

by on Oct.14, 2013

VW is well established in China's Pacific Crescent - but now it wants to target emerging regions of the country to maintain its growth.

Volkswagen AG and General Motors are locked in a bitter duel over sales leadership in China with the edge going to VW during the first nine months of the year.

With China now the world’s largest automotive market, dominance means more than bragging rights. GM already sells more vehicles in the populous Asian nation than in the U.S., and China promises to be a major factor in the bottom line results of most automotive manufacturers going forward.

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VW’s sales in China for the first nine months of 2013 rose 18% to 2.35 million cars and sport-utility vehicles through the end of September. The maker of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles is relying on growth in China to offset slumping demand in Europe, where sales are set to drop for a sixth straight year, and reach its goal of overtaking both GM and Toyota to become the world’s largest automaker.

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GM Expanding China Operations

Maker building plants to keep up with demand.

by on Jun.20, 2013

GM CEO Dan Akerson during an earlier visit to China. The maker is opening two new plants there.

General Motors Co. continues to go big in China.

GM and its Chinese partners broke ground this week on not one but two new assembly plants as well as a major expansion of the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center.

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The new assembly plants are located in Shanghai in eastern China and Chongqing in the center of China. The expanded technical center will also be located in Shanghai, one the major hubs of China’s auto industry. China has become the world’s largest automotive market in the past decade.

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GM Continues Setting Sales Records in China

Upsurge defies uncertainty in world’s largest auto market.

by on Apr.03, 2013

The new Cadillac XTS has been gaining momentum since its recent launch in China.

General Motors continues to score big in China, its sales increasing by double digits again during March despite worrisome signs of trouble in what is now the world’s largest automotive market.

GM reported its Chinese joint ventures reached all-time highs for not just March but for the entire first quarter of 2013. Sales last month surged 12.6% on an annual basis to 290,538 units. It was the second-highest monthly sales total in GM’s history in China.

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For the quarter, GM’s sales in China jumped to 816,373 units, an increase of 9.6% from the same period last year, the company reported, putting GM on track to sell more than 3 million units in China this year. That seems on track to be another new record.

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Chinese Car Sales Boom Keeps Even Weakest Makers Afloat

Government still hopes for a shake-out of domestic brands.

by on May.02, 2011

Geely - its IG Concept shown here - is considered one of the likely winners in a shake-out of Chinese domestic automakers.

The long-awaited consolidation of the Chinese auto industry is on hold.

While foreign brands, like Buick, Volkswagen and Toyota, may get much of the attention, there are hundreds of smaller, domestic automakers vying for attention and the dollars of China’s new automotive buying class.

Government leaders – along with those foreign makers and industry analysts — have been hoping to see a shake-out of some of the least viable of those home-grown brands.  But like the bumblebee, the structurally unwieldy and inefficient Chinese auto industry continues to fly.

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The fact is the boom in car sales over the last three years has bolstered the cash flow of smaller, weaker companies that have blossomed over the years and which continue to sell cars and trucks in sufficient numbers to continue to operate, according to western executives familiar with the rapid growth of the Chinese market. None of the smaller companies have more than 2% to 3% of the market but with Chinese sales topping 18 million last year, and expected to surge past 20 million in 2011, the volume is sufficient to stay in business.

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Mercedes Bets on the Middle Kingdom

Chinese momentum “tremendous,” says CEO Zetsche.

by on Apr.18, 2011

Daimler is preparing to launch production of the Mercedes-Benz GLK at its Chinese assembly plant.

When Daimler AG’s shareholders quizzed Deiter Zetsche’s plans for the future he basically summed it up with one word – China.

The booming Asian nation now dominates Daimler’s strategic thinking, which is why it’s no surprise that Zetsche will travel to Shanghai this week to unveil the next version of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class at the Shanghai Auto Show. (With a second prototype getting a follow-up introduction days later at the New York Auto Show.)

In addition, Daimler plans to double the size its new joint-venture plant in Beijing to build 300,000 vehicles annually by 2014-2015, mostly for China’s internal market — though some of the multiple models slated for assembly at the plant could be exported.

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“The momentum of that market is tremendous. As recently as 2008, the ‘Middle Empire’ was number seven on the list of Mercedes-Benz most important market,” Zetsche told Daimler’s shareholders.  Now, “When someone in the auto industry mentions growth, within three sentences the talk will likely be about China.”

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Chinese Car Market Showing Signs of Slowing Down

But Beijing government could again intervene.

by on May.25, 2010

The most recent Beijing Auto Show saw plenty of new products debuting, including the Ford Start concept, but is the market starting to slow?

Is the over-heated Chinese car market finally showing signs of cooling down?  And if so, will the Beijing government yet again intervene to keep the momentum building?

Now the world’s largest national automotive market, China’s car sales have been growing at a torrid pace, volume during the first quarter of 2010 rising at an annual rate of 72%.  But while April sales were yet again up 34% compared to year-earlier numbers, they actually fell 12% when compared to March 2009.

“China’s automotive market remains volatile,” suggests a new report from J.D. Power and Associates.

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And even the strong first quarter, it notes, may contain some potentially troubling signs once the numbers are parsed more closely.  Much of the growth, especially in March, appears to simply be the result of dealers rebuilding inventories after 2009.

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Don’t Expect Chinese Market to Slow, Warns GM’s Shanghai Chief

Annual sales could double in the mid-term, says Kevin Wale.

by on Jan.13, 2010

GM hopes the new Chevrolet Sail will keep sales booming in China, the world's largest market.

China has a way of delivering some surprises.  Just ask former General Motors Chairman Jack Smith.

It was just over a decade ago when he announced plans to form a joint venture with the local maker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Consortium, and open an assembly plant.  In a land known as “the bicycle kingdom,” the landscape was “littered with casualties,” warned one major newspaper.  It shouldn’t have bothered.

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Last year, Chinese auto sales surged to 13.5 million, soaring past the U.S. to become the world’s largest national market.  And GM went along for the ride, its own sales rocketing from just 32,000 when it opened its first showrooms, in 1999, to 1.83 million, last year.  That makes China the maker’s second-largest market, “by a considerably wide margin,” said Kevin Wale, president of GM China Group.

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