General Motors posted a slight gain in sales in China during the second quarter, but Ford Motor Co. continued to stumble with a double-digit decline that deepened its woes in the world’s largest market for new vehicles.
In what is described as a slow market, GM and its joint venture partners delivered 858,344 vehicles in China during the second quarter of 2018 as sales grew 0.7% from a year earlier.
Ford’s China slump intensified, as vehicle sales tumbled 38% in June and the automaker recorded its worst-ever first half. Ford sold 62,057 vehicles in China in June, taking its sales for the first half of the year to 400,443, down 25% compared with the year-ago period.
According to consultancy LMC Automotive, it was Ford’s biggest first-half percentage decline since starting operations in China in 2001.
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Ford, which undertook a big expansion in China earlier this decade, is paying the price for a lack of new models in its line-up. Last year, its sales fell 6% even as overall vehicle sales in China rose 3%.
“We always knew it would be a challenging year for us given our position in the product cycle,” Peter Fleet, head of Ford’s Asia-Pacific operations, which include China, said in a statement.
Fleet has previously said Ford’s sales will not likely regain momentum in China until next year when the first of new vehicle models arrive in showrooms in large enough numbers. This is in spite of the move by Ford to maintain prices on imported models – which also include some Lincoln-branded products – and swallow the added duties.
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LMC Automotive senior market analyst Alan Kang said one reason Ford is struggling in China is “fiercer competition” in the car market there, where luxury brands are suffering amid the rise of local Chinese brands.
“Weak global brands are squeezed like the meat in a sandwich, so this is why we can see not only Ford,” but Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., and Peugeot SA have “all suffered” in the last two years, LMC analyst Alan Kang said.
In the first half of 2018, GM deliveries in China grew 4.4% on an annual basis to 1,844,396 units. In the second half, the company is adding 10 new and refreshed models, two-thirds of the total for the entire year. The focus will be on segments with the strongest customer demand, including SUVs, MPVs and luxury vehicles.
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Cadillac sales in the second quarter rose 19% from a year earlier to 48,712 units and Chevrolet deliveries advanced 22% to 131,895 units.