China is an all-important market for automakers these days, as its exploding middle class has created a massive opportunity for global automakers to swoop in and take advantage of a largely car-less populace.
Yet Ford Motor Company is floundering in the market, posting a 30% sales dip in February vs. the same month last year. The automaker in December announced plans to overhaul its business in the country, streamlining its corporate structure, establishing a single national distribution division, and working toward expanding its local manufacturing footprint. Yet until Ford has the chance to implement those changes, the US-based global carmaker is facing an uphill battle to reclaim some market share.
Not helping matters is the fact that Ford China’s old CEO, Jason Luo, resigned in January after just five months, citing personal reasons. Shortly before, Ford China had reported a 6% sales slump for all of 2017.
Ford Asia Pacific President and China CEO Peter Fleet blamed the automaker’s slow February sales in part on a “late Chinese New Year holiday,” resulting in fewer working days. “As we reposition our business in China, our key priorities for 2018 are to strengthen our core business, improve our operational fitness and accelerate our strategic shift to capitalize on emerging market opportunities.”
“This is an important year for us as we continue to focus on healthy and sustainable business growth in China,” Fleet continued. “This is not a short trip for us. We’re in it for the long haul.”
Sales for Changan Ford Automobile were down 27 percent to around 31,000 vehicles for the month of February, but the biggest loss of ground was reported by Jiangling Motor Corporation, whose sales slipped 39 percent to less than 13,000 vehicles.