Ford Motor Company Gains Again in China

Does Ford's Kuga SUV look familiar? It should -- it's the Chinese-market version of Ford's popular Escape. Sales have been strong, up 16% last month. Source: Ford Motor Co.

Ford  (NYSE: F  )  said that its sales in China made another big jump in April, rising 29% over strong year-ago results.

Ford has been on a tremendous roll in China. It was very late to the Chinese auto boom, making its big move years after rivals Volkswagen  (NASDAQOTH: VLKAY  ) and General Motors  (NYSE: GM  ) had established themselves as China's new-car heavyweights.

But it has made up for lost time: Ford's sales were up nearly 50% last year, enough to power the Blue Oval past Toyota  (NYSE: TM  ) in China's sales rankings. And they've risen another 41% through the first four months of 2014.

What's powering Ford's big surge in the world's largest new-car market? In this video, Motley Fool senior auto specialist John Rosevear talks about the factors that have made Ford popular with Chinese buyers -- and about the company's ongoing expansion plan that could make it a very big player in China over the next couple of years.

A transcript of the video is below.

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John Rosevear: Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto specialist for fool.com. Ford had another huge month in China in April. Ford's sales in the Middle Kingdom were up 29% on the month, continuing a trend of huge monthly gains that we've seen for over a year now.For the first four months of 2014, Ford's sales in China are up 41%, and that's on top of the almost 50% gain they posted for the full year in 2013.

These gains are coming as Ford rolls out more and more models from its global product portfolio. Ford's current product lineup seems to have hit a sweet spot with Chinese consumers, the idea of a nice, premium car with high-tech features that isn't a flashy status-symbol luxury car is something that a lot of Chinese folks seem to like, and that's really where Ford has aimed their current generation of products.

The Focus continues to be the big leader, Ford is selling over 30,000 Focuses a month in China, that's quite a bit more than they sell here in the U.S. But of course that's two different cars, Ford offers two Focuses in China. One is the current global model that we have here in the U.S., it's called "New Focus" in China, and the other is the last-generation European Focus, which is sold as a value-priced alternative, that one is called "Classic Focus". Ford doesn't break out sales figures for the two, but we know that the New Focus has been quite popular since its introduction a couple years ago.

Ford is also doing well in China with a couple of other models you'd recognize, but you might not recognize the names. The Kuga, that's an SUV that looks just like a Ford Escape, because it is a Ford Escape under a different name, Kuga sales were up 16% in April, Ford sold just over 11,000 of them in the month.

And the Mondeo sedan is also doing very well, that's the car we call the Ford Fusion, Ford sold a little over 10,000 of them in China last month. Those cars are built and sold via a joint venture with Chinese automaker Changan Motors.

Ford also has a joint venture with Jiangling Motors that builds trucks and commercial vehicles including the Ford Transit vans, sales there were up 23% in April. We talked about Ford gaining ground in commercial fleet sales in Europe, too, and of course they sell a whole lot of pickups and vans to commercial fleets here in the U.S., it's a good business for Ford all around the world.

Ford also imports some models to China from the U.S., the Explorer and Edge SUVs and the high performance ST versions of the Focus and Fiesta, they only sell a few thousand a month but sales have been rising quite a bit.

Next up for Ford in China are a couple more new models, one is a China-specific model called the Escort, it's like a toned-down version of the Focus sedan aimed at a little different market niche, and the other is a very familiar model to Americans, Ford will be offering the all-new 2015 Mustang in China. Yes, V8s and all. I'm very eager to see how that does. Thanks for watching.


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