(This story has been updated with new information about Chinese auto sales.)
Ford’s efforts to reverse its long struggle to sell vehicles in China may have started to take root, as the automaker saw its second-quarter sales rise 3% in the world’s largest automotive market.
China’s overall market was on the rise in recent months after it was hit by the coronavirus pandemic during the first quarter with sales up 4.4% in April and 14.5% in May, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has said.
June turned out to be a tough month in China for passenger car sales, which fell 6.5%, after predictions of a double-digit increase, according to the China Passenger Car Association. However, overall sales – due to a massive spike in truck sales – rose 11.3% last month. Like in the U.S., Ford only reports sales results in China quarterly. Its second-quarter U.S. sales were down 33 percent.
However, the second quarter result is a marked improvement when compared with its Q1 numbers – a 78.7% increase – when it saw its sales fall 34.9%, although the automaker did see its market share rise to 2.2% in the country. It’s also quite a reversal from the past two years when sales fell 26% and 37% respectively.
While sales in China decreased last month, during the quarter they’ve been on the rise and part of that is attributable, the CPCA noted, to strong results from the luxury market, not entirely surprising as Chinese buyers flock to high-end vehicles.
This extended to Ford’s luxury brand Lincoln, which saw its numbers rise 12% during the quarter, led in large measure by the new Lincoln Corsair sport utility, which saw sales of 6,968 units. However, Ford also saw strength in other places, including commercial vehicles where the Transit line-up posted sales of 15,007 units, up 60.9 percent.
Overall, Ford’s China sales totaled 158,589 units, which the company said came due to “strong demand following the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.” However, not everyone enjoyed a strong second quarter as evidenced by General Motors decline of 5.3% during that timeframe.
While Ford makes cars through its joint ventures with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co Ltd and Jiangling Motors Corp Ltd (JMC), the company’s own brand performed well, especially sport-utility vehicles.
Ford brand SUVs sold 30,462 units in the second quarter, flat year-over-year, but an increase of 82.1 percent over the first quarter. Sales of the all-new Escape reached 11,290 units in the second quarter, while orders for the locally built Explorer, launched in mid-June, surpassed 2,000 units in the first two weeks of its launch, according to the automaker.
Ford hopes to keep the good times rolling in China by accelerating the launch of new products and localization strategies. The company’s cited June’s launch of the locally built all-new Explorer as one way sales were bolstered. It plans to keep rolling out new SUV offerings, including the Escape, Kuga, Edge and Territory S.