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Ford targets China

Focus on China: Ford's small-car will lead the brand's assault on the Chinese market.

Slow-starting Ford ready to become a serious player in the world’s biggest market

18 Apr 2011

FORD has announced a massive attack on the huge Chinese car market, with plans to double its professional workforce while introducing 15 new models and a number of new powertrains by 2015.

In what is seen by many industry observers as a belated push into China – which overtook the United States for global leadership in 2009 – Ford will also double the number of its dealerships in China from 340 to around 700 over the next four years.

Just days after the company slashed 240 jobs at Ford Australia’s Broadmeadows plant, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa president Joe Hinrichs announced the creation of 1200 new jobs in China on the eve of this week’s Shanghai motor show.

Representatives from Ford’s human resources team will be at the Shanghai show, talking to prospects for 550 new jobs being created this year alone.

Ford expects its Asia Pacific and Africa region to contribute 70 per cent of the company’s global growth in the next decade.

Mr Hinrichs, who became chairman and CEO of Ford China in October last year, said the all-new Focus small car would be the first of the 15 new models for China.

It will go into production next year at a new $US490 million “state-of-the-art” facility in Chongqing in a joint-venture headed by former Ford Australia president Marin Burela.

 center imageFrom top: Ford Asia Pacific and Africa president Joe Hinrichs, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Ford's Nanjing factory.

“Together with our partners, we are leveraging the strength of the One Ford plan and our global platforms to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015, reinforcing our commitment to offer a full portfolio of vehicles for our Chinese customers,” said Mr Hinrichs.

“Our new line-up will significantly strengthen Ford’s penetration in existing segments and drive new growth in others.

“The 15 new vehicles are part of Ford’s plans to introduce 50 new products and powertrains to the Asia Pacific region by 2015.”

Mr Hinrichs said the new Focus would bring Ford closer to its plan of delivering a C-segment family of vehicles that would reach two million units a year across 120 markets.

Ford sales in China surged 40 per cent last year – ahead of a 32 per cent increase for the overall market – outpacing the slowing market with a further 19 per cent increase in the first quarter this year, but the Blue Oval remains a minor player with only a two per cent share.

Volkswagen, which committed to the Chinese market early, has been rewarded with market leadership with 11 per cent ahead of General Motors (seven per cent) and Hyundai (seven per cent).

Ford is understood to have targeted a share of eight per cent of the Chinese market within 10 years.

Ford Asia Pacific and Africa vice-president of HR Kiersten Robinson said it was vital for the company to expand its “skilled and talented workforce” as well as expanding its product portfolio and production capacity in China.

“Dedicated and passionate people are the most important enabler of our success as we continue to grow,” he said.

“This is a unique opportunity in the history of the industry and Ford to participate in this kind of growth.”

Mr Robinson said Ford was hiring professionals in areas such as engineering, manufacturing, marketing sales and service, finance, IT, communications, government affairs and legal. The new jobs in China will be located at its operations in Shanghai, Chongqing, Nanjing and Nanchang.

In addition to the new plant at Chongqing, which is a joint-venture with Changan Ford Mazda Automotive (CFMA) and has a capacity of 150,000 cars a year, Ford is also building a $US300 million commercial vehicle plant in Nanchang with Jiangling Motors Corp (JMC) and a $US500 million engine plant in Chongqing with CFMA.

JMC produces commercial vehicles and is 30 per cent owned by Ford. Last July, the partners broke ground for the new plant, which will start operations at the end of 2012 building up to 300,000 Ford- and JMC-branded vehicles per year.

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