Great Wall is the China carmaker to watch, says Ford's Asia-Pacific head

The US giant's Asia-Pacific chief says mainland's top seller of SUVs is the one company to watch

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 3:51am

Great Wall Motor, China's top seller of sport utility vehicles, has the most traction among the country's carmakers with global ambitions, according to the head of Ford Motor's Asia region.

"The one that's probably one to watch is Great Wall," David Schoch, president of Ford Asia-Pacific, told reporters yesterday at the company's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. "They seem to be coming up with good designs and quality, and they've started to export."

Chairman Wei Jianjun, Asia's wealthiest car executive, has signalled Great Wall will eventually outsell Chrysler's Jeep globally and wants to double sales over three years to 1.3 million vehicles by 2015. Ford is on a growth path of its own in China and expects to double its quarterly market share in less than two years.

Ford's target is to capture 5 per cent of the Chinese market in the fourth quarter, Schoch said. The No 2 carmaker in the US had just 2.5 per cent share of mainland sales in the first quarter of last year, but deliveries in China surged 51 per cent in the first nine months of 2013 to 647,849.

Chief executive Alan Mulally set a plan with executive chairman Bill Ford to build up the company's Asia presence before agreeing to leave Boeing for Ford in 2006. Ford vehicles assembled in Asia now outnumber those built in Europe for the first time and by 2015 it will have the capacity to produce more cars and trucks in Asia than it made last year in North America.

Ford intends to build eight million vehicles worldwide by midway through this decade, up from about six million this year, John Fleming, Ford's executive vice-president of global manufacturing, told reporters earlier this week.

The company is due to open nine factories from this year to 2015, including five in China and two in India.

Ford was a latecomer in China, forming its first passenger-vehicle joint venture six years behind General Motors and more than a decade after Volkswagen. Those companies remain the established leaders among foreign car makers.

Ford has joint ventures in China with Changan Automobile for passenger cars and Jiangling Motors for commercial vehicles. It has no plans to change its venture partners in the country, Schoch said.

Capturing a bigger slice of Asian markets is crucial to Ford because of its heavy investments in the region. Ford has said that it is spending US$4.9 billion to expand its line-up and double production capacity just in China.