Ford Says Vehicle Sales In China Doubled In First Half

SHANGHAI, China (AP) - Ford Motor Co.'s vehicle sales in China doubled in January-June compared with first half of 2005, rising 102 percent to 74,395 units, the company's China unit said Friday.

The sales growth far exceeded the average industry growth of 45 percent for vehicle sales and 63 percent for passenger car sales in the first half.

Last year, sales of Ford brand vehicles in China, including imports, rose 46 percent to 82,225 units last year, compared with industry wide sales growth of about 14 percent.

Ford Focus, a mid-sized sedan launched in September 2005, has been the major force for growth at Ford's joint flagship joint venture with its Japanese affiliate Mazda Motor Corp. and China's state-owned Changan Automobile Group, the statement said.

The venture sold 33,546 Ford Focuses in the first half, about 60 percent of its total 56,417 units in total sales. It also sells Mondeos and Fiestas in China.

''The success is a good proof of our continuous strengthening of product lineup,'' Mei Wei Cheng, chairman and chief executive officer of Ford's China unit said in the statement.

Sales of Ford Transit, a commercial vehicle model made with Jiangling Motor Corp., in which Ford holds a 30 percent stake, rose 35.7 percent in the first half to 11,003 units.

Sales of Ford's affiliate brands, namely Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover, jumped 63 percent on-year to 5,285 units.

Ford was a relative latecomer to the China market, beginning operations in 1997. It is in the midst of a US$1 billion expansion plan.

In the first half of this year, China's passenger car sales rose 63 percent to 1.78 million units from 1.09 million in the same period last year, according to the National Passenger Cars Association.

Passenger car production reached 1.89 million units in the first half of the year, compared with 1.24 million units in January-June 2005.

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