Over the next year, Ford Motor Co. will add new SUV models to its China lineup to cope with the rising demand for units in this segment. Ford will quadruple its offerings, which will soon include the Kuga, the Chinese variant of the Escape, and EcoSport small SUVs, and the bigger Explorer. Ford Asia chief Joe Hinrichs said that presently, just the Edge is available in China, which leaves it under-represented in a segment that typically provides bigger profit margins.
He also said that the next stage of the growth of its product portfolio is launch of its three SUV models, which are crucial because of the apparent SUV segmentation. So far, the on-sale date of these SUVs has yet to be announced.
Ford, which produces the Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and other vehicles in China in a three-way alliance with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. and Japan's Mazda Motor Corp., is expanding its SUV offering. Other automakers are beefing up their SUV lineups too. These SUVs from Ford are included in its plan to present 15 new vehicles into China by 2015. J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said that last year, Chinese consumers bought 2.1 million SUVs, a 25% increase.
This stands for nearly 12% of total light vehicle sales. This total makes up around 50% of the 4.1 million SUVs sold in the U.S., where they account for nearly a third of the market.
Customers and industry officials said that the wish of drivers to maneuver through China's packed traffic in a pricey off-road vehicle is perceived to be a very appealing prospect in the status-conscious group of people, particularly for younger consumers. J.D. Power and LMC said that furthermore, the number of female SUV drivers (a majority of which are young professionals) have been gradually rising in China, from 14% in 2007 to 19% in 2011.