By 2015, Ford Motor Co. is expected to double the number of dealerships in China to 680, according to David Schoch, chairman and CEO of Ford's China operations. Ford has recently launched a plant in this country that’s valued at about $500 million. Ford has also recently presented the new Focus at the opening of a plant in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing. It intends to add two outlets a week on average as it aims to narrow the gap with foreign competitors.
Schoch told Reuters that aside from increasing the production capacity and making the new products available, it would also have to improve the retail distribution network.
Compared to the other major automakers, Ford is considered to be a latecomer in China where General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG have achieved a significant lead. In China last year, Ford sold 320,658 vehicles. Meanwhile, Volkswagen sold 2.26 million and GM sold 2.55 million in China in 2011. Ford wants to catch up by offering 15 new vehicles to China by 2015. Its new Focus is set to arrive at showrooms throughout China in the second quarter.
Will Periam, strategy director for Ford's Asia Pacific and Africa operations, said that the release of the new models will enable Ford to compete in around 50% of the overall market segments in China, which have gone up from 22%.
Schoch added that Ford aims to outperform the Chinese market, which he expects to climb between 5 to 10% this year even with the sharp drop in January. He believes that Ford's 41.9% sales decline in January was due to the timing of the long Lunar New Year holiday period and Ford’s lower-than-expected inventory after having had a strong December when it strongly outpaced the growth in this market.