Manufacturing News

Ford poised to outsell Hyundai as it boosts China output

Ford Motor Co. opened its fourth assembly plant for passenger vehicles in China on Tuesday as part of a $4.9 billion (30 billion yuan) expansion drive, putting it on track to overtake Hyundai Motor Co. in the market.

With the new plant, Ford will be able to produce 1.4 million passenger vehicles a year in China, slightly more than Hyundai's 1.05 million.

In China, Ford is the fifth-ranked foreign automaker by sales behind Volkswagen AG, General Motors, Nissan Motor Corp. and Hyundai.

Carmakers are building more assembly plants in China than anywhere else, lured by the promise of a vast untapped market. Ford CEO Mark Fields attended the opening ceremony in the east China city of Hangzhou.

"Ford clearly has the momentum," said Robin Zhu, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. "They're very competitive. It's now a better brand than the Japanese in China's mass market."

The Hangzhou plant will produce the Edge crossover, Fields said. The company says it aims to be one of the top three foreign automakers in China by 2020.

Ford has outpaced the industry in deliveries in the first two months, gaining 15 percent, compared with 8.7 percent for the passenger-vehicle segment, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The automaker's sales surged 19 percent to 1.1 million vehicles last year, vs. a 9.9 percent pace for the industry.

The Focus was China's best-selling sedan last year, while the Kuga was one of the country's best-selling SUVs, according to the association.

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