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While Detroit Gains Ground, Japanese Makers Stumble in China

Toyota, Honda, Nissan all hurt by island dispute with China.

by on Jan.07, 2013

A Toyota dealership in Qingdao was burned by protestors in a dispute over an island chain claimed by both China and Japan.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have ended 2012 with all-time sales records in China — but the news is nowhere near as good for Japanese makers.

Stung by a dispute between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have all suffered a sharp decline in sales in what has become the world’s largest automotive market.

While General Motors has yet to release its final figures for 2012, the maker already passed its previous peak by the end of November, the 2.59 million vehicles it sold for all of 2011. GM has set a goal of boosting sales in China to 5 million by mid-decade.

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Ford, meanwhile, has confirmed its sales in China rose 21% last year, to 626,616, also an all-time high. The maker was a relative latecomer to the Chinese market but has been aggressively expanding both its product portfolio and production capacity over the last several years.


Chinese Car Sales Rebound – But Prices Plunge

Dealers faced with a glut of vehicles slash prices.

by on Jun.13, 2012

A Mercedes-Benz E300 on display at the recent Beijing Motor Show.

It’s the Chinese take on the old good-news/bad-news phenomenon: Chinese car sales rebounded sharply in May after a worrying slowdown earlier in the year.  But to help build momentum, dealers have been slashing prices which could translate into lost profits for market leaders like General Motors and Volkswagen.

The sharpest price cuts in several years raise fears that the Chinese car market is weakening – along with the rest of the economy – and could go into a slump if manufacturers decide to hold the line rather than accelerate the current pace of discounting.

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Chinese car sales surged 16% in May compared to year-earlier volume, a welcomed turnaround from the first quarter of 2012 when the market showed an unexpected and unfamiliar decline.  But even so, sales for the first five months of the year were up only a modest 1.7%.  Based on patterns throughout most of the past decade that might have been expected to be more like a 20, 30, even 40% gain.


Ford Pumping $500 Mil into Engine Plant in Bid to Grow Chinese Share

Late to market, Ford paying a steep price to catch up.

by on Jun.17, 2011

Ford's new engine plant will help support the rapid growth of its Chinese product line-up, which now includes models like this Mondeo.

Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, Ford Motor Company’s passenger car joint venture in China, has launched construction of a new, state-of-the-art engine plant in Chongqing. The $500 million investment will more than double CFMA’s annual engine production capacity in China to 750,000 units when it comes on line in 2013.

Along with a variety of other moves, including plans to add a second assembly plant to support the addition of 15 new products, Ford is working hard to establish itself in China.  The maker was initially reluctant to enter what has now become the world’s largest automotive market – and is paying a price for that delay.  Ford currently holds less than a 3% share of the Chinese market while that country’s top maker, General Motors, has a 15% share.


“Today’s ground-breaking ceremony represents yet another milestone in Ford’s accelerated expansion plan for China. This plan reinforces our commitment to aggressively grow the Ford brand in China and offer a full range of exciting, fuel-efficient vehicles to Chinese customers,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.