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Ford invests more in China

Event horizon: Ford CEO Alan Mulally at the opening of the $US350 million transmission plant in Chongqing.

Importance of Asia-Pacific underscored by Ford’s latest Chinese investment

27 Sep 2011

FORD has underlined the importance of the Asia Pacific region to its global expansion plans by breaking ground on a new transmission plant in China this week, just days after General Motors signed a deal to co-develop an electric car with its Chinese joint-venture partner.

While GM, China’s biggest foreign car-maker, is the latest manufacturer to jump-start EV development in the world’s largest motor market, Ford’s Chinese plans are no less ambitious, with CEO Alan Mulally announcing the Blue Oval’s first transmission factory in China would supply 15 new models to be launched there by 2015.

Mr Mulally was joined by Ford Asia Pacific and Africa (APA) president Joe Hinrichs and Ford China CEO and chairman of the decade-old Changan Ford Mazda Automotive (CFMA) joint-venture Xu Liu Ping to open the $US350 million gearbox plant in Chongqing.

The new factory is claimed to bring Ford’s total joint-venture investment in China to $US3.5 billion and Ford’s total investment in Asia Pacific and Africa to $US5 billion.

“China and Asia are incredible engines of growth,” said Mr Mulally, who is visiting China and Thailand this week to review Ford’s aggressive expansion in the Asia Pacific and Africa region, and to participate in Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan’s annual international advisory committee meeting.

“This new transmission plant, our first in China, will help power the launch of 15 new vehicles in China by 2015,” said Mr Hinrichs.

“As part of our aggressive growth, we’re shifting into high gear. With the seven new plants we’re building in Asia Pacific and Africa, including four in China, Ford’s capacity in APA will be 2.3 million units by mid-decade.”

Since Ford and Changan Motors broke ground for their joint-venture 10 years ago in the central-China municipality, CFMA – which also has assembly plants in Chongqing and Nanjing, and an engine plant in Nanjing – has built and sold more than 1.3 million Ford brand vehicles, including Focus, Fiesta, Mondeo and S-Max.

Ford is currently building a new $US490 million assembly plant in Chongqing, which will produce the new Focus for China from 2012, plus a $US500 million engine plant in Chongqing.

Along with its commercial vehicle partner Jiangling Motors Corporation, which is 30 per cent Ford-owned, the company is also building an additional $US300 million assembly plant in Nanchang, where Ford and JMC-branded vehicles are already produced.

Ford and Mazda also jointly produce the new Australian-designed Ranger and BT-50 utility in Thailand, where Ford is building a fourth Focus factory to supply Asia Pacific markets including Australia from 2012.

Ford says it will bring more than 50 new vehicles and powertrains to the Asia Pacific region by mid-decade, including 15 new vehicles for China, as part of its plan to increase its global sales from 5.3 million in 2010 to eight million by 2015. Up to 70 per cent of that growth is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region.

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