Ford’s China car sales up 14% in May

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– Ford sold 45.165 cars in China in May.
– up 14% compared to 2010.
– first five months: up 15% to 230.068 cars year-to-year.
– Ford Focus the best selling car; up 33% to 16.765 year-to-year.
– Chang’an-Ford-Mazda joint venture: up 19% to 32.996 year-to-year.
– Jiangling-Ford joint venture (commercial vehicles) sold 12.166 vehicles in May.

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By WallStreetJournal: Ford Motor Co.’s vehicle sales in China rose in May amid strong demand for its midrange passenger cars, despite recent signs of a slowing Chinese auto market and expiring government sales incentives, which resulted in weaker headline performances among competitors.

Ford said Tuesday that its vehicle sales in China totaled 45,162 units in May, up 14% from a year earlier. Sales for the first five months of the year rose 15% year-to-year to 230,068 units.

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Ford’s strong sales growth contrasted with declining monthly numbers at General Motors, which suffered due to a withdrawal of government stimulus measures introduced during the global financial crisis. Japanese car makers Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have also reported weaker sales due to supply disruptions following Japan’s recent devastating earthquake.

Ford said one of the main drivers of May sales growth was the strength of its popular Ford Focus model. Sales of the midsize car rose 33% year-to-year to 16,756 units.

Ford said its Changan Ford Mazda Automobile joint venture sold 32,996 vehicles in May, a 19% year-to-year increase. Its commercial vehicle venture, Jiangling Motors, sold 12,166 vehicles in May. For the January-May period, Jiangling sold 90,055 vehicles, up 23% year-to-year.

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General Motors, which also released figures Tuesday, said sales at its China commercial- and passenger-vehicle joint ventures totaled 190,674 units in May, down 2.7% from the previous year.

SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile, GM’s three-way mini-commercial vehicle venture, reported sales of 93,997 units for the month, a 10.8% decline from May 2010.

However, Klaus Paur, managing director for Greater China autos at Synovate Motoresearch, cautioned against reading too much into GM’s performance. Previously, government incentives on small-engined vehicles and targeted programs to encourage rural residents to purchase small commercial vehicles led to extraordinarily high demand for vehicles such as the Wuling Sunshine microvan.

“Wuling has been an enormous success, and because GM is part of Wuling, that feeds into GM’s numbers. Now that the incentives are no longer there, these numbers are really going down,” Mr. Paur said. Sales of midrange and high-end passenger vehicles, which were less affected by government programs, continue to exhibit strong growth, he said.

GM’s passenger-vehicle joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp., posted sold 92,519 vehicles in May, an 11.1% increase from last year. For the January-May period, GM sold 1.08 million units across all its China operations, compared with 1.03 million units in the same period last year.

GM’s figures were released shortly after Honda Motor Co. said its sales dropped 32% on year in May to 27,704 units, mostly due to earthquake-related plant disruptions. Sales for the January-May period fell 9% from the year-earlier period, to 236,264 units.

The Japanese car maker said sales at its joint venture with state-run Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. fell 28% in May from the previous year to 15,003 units. Its joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp. sold 12,201 units, down 37% from the year before.

Honda said in May that its earnings would suffer in the current fiscal year after the earthquake hit parts makers in northeastern Japan, and as the yen remains strong against the dollar.

Toyota Motor Co. earlier said earthquake-related disruptions caused May sales of its passenger vehicles in China to fall 35% from last year, to 38,500 units. A company spokesman said Toyota expects sales to recover in June.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said auto sales in China fell 0.3% in April from a year earlier to 1.6 million units. The association is expected to release figures for May in the coming week.

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