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Ford steps up competition in China's sedan market
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US carmaker Ford on Thursday stepped up competition in China's heated sedan market with the launch of a new model Ford Mondeo.


The launch came as the Union of National Passenger Cars Market Information released figures showing FAW VW, one of Volkswagen's two joint ventures in China, was leading the Chinese sedan market in October with 38,841 vehicles sold.


Shanghai GM, the flagship joint venture of General Motors, was a close second with sales of 36,113, followed by Volkswagen's other joint venture, Shanghai VW with sales of 32,649.


The Ford Mondeo-Zhisheng, the Chinese version of the third-generation Mondeo, is Ford's fifth sedan model introduced in the world's fastest growing car market since 2003.


The model features four variants priced ranging from 181,800 yuan (US$24,240) to 239,800 yuan.


The launch of Ford's fifth sedan model in the Chinese market since 2003 comes five months after Ford offered the third-generation Mondeo on the European market.


Ford was a relative latecomer into the Chinese market, establishing the Chang'an Ford Mazda Automobile Co. (CFMA) joint venture in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality last year.


CFMA was the merging of Japan's Mazda Motor with Sino-U.S. carmaker Changan Ford, which was established in 2001 and produced the first Chinese-made Ford sedan, the Fiesta, in 2003.


The joint venture was China's tenth largest sedan producer in terms of sales in the first three quarters of this year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.


China is the world's fastest growing car market with retail sales of 490,474 vehicles in October, up 21.3 percent from October last year.


Sales of passenger vehicles, including sedans, multi-purpose and sport-utility vehicles, were reported to be 4.86 million unitsin the first 10 months, a rise of 22.1 percent from the same period last year.


Last month Volkswagen China president Winfried Vahland said VW was planning to increase its market share in China from current 18percent to 20 percent. The company has increased its 2007 sales target from 800,000 vehicles to 900,000 and was anticipating more than a million sales in 2008.


(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2007)


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