GM, Ford Stay on Offense in China

Ford sales down big, but maker on product offensive.

by on Apr.19, 2017

Matt Tsien, who heads up GM China, said the steady stream of new product is a big driver behind the automaker's March sales increase.

General Motors reported its sales climbed 16% to a record level in March, while Ford Motor Co.’s sales dropped 21%.

The sales increase left GM China executives in an upbeat mood as the critical Shanghai Auto Show officially opened this week. Overall GM delivered 345,448 vehicles in March for the company’s year-over-year growth since last August as the Buick, Cadillac and Baojun brands all reached new sales highs for March.

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“SUVs, MPVs and luxury vehicles will help us further tap into the market’s growth potential,” said GM Executive Vice President and GM China President Matt Tsien.

“We will continue to expand and upgrade our offerings across segments. Many of our new models will be on display at this month’s Auto Shanghai 2017,” he added.

GM’s SUV deliveries soared 45% year over year, while MPV deliveries increased 23%. For the 13th consecutive month, Cadillac posted double-digit growth, with sales surging 63%.

(Ford will build EVs, plug-ins in China. Click Here for the story.)

Ford's China chief Peter Fleet said he believes that Mustang and pickups will help lead Ford sales in the months ahead.

As the Shanghai Auto Show opened, GM also confirmed that it was preparing to use incentives to spur the sales of its new electric vehicle that it is introducing in China, the Velite 5, Buick’s first extended-range electric vehicle.

Equipped with GM’s latest intelligent electric drive system, the Velite 5 offers up to 768 kilometers, or about 475 miles, of range in extended-range mode. Its prioritized pure electric driving mode provides 116 kilometers, or about 72 miles, of range, fulfilling consumers’ demand to commute with zero petroleum consumption and zero emissions.

The Buick Blue strategy plans to introduce additional new energy vehicles in China in the next two years, including hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles.

With the Velite 5, Buick continues to establish itself as a pioneer in green technology in China. The Velite 5 is the first hybrid vehicle manufactured in China with fuel consumption below 1 liter/100 kilometers. Its average fuel economy performance is as low as 0.9 liter/100 kilometers.

It is the second model that wears the Buick Blue badge, joining the LaCrosse hybrid electric vehicle launched last April. It is eligible for a subsidy of RMB 36,000 or about $5,200 from SAIC-GM.

GM also unveiled the Chevrolet FNR-X all-purpose sports concept vehicle made its world premiere today at Auto Shanghai 2017. Chevrolet previously showcased the Chevrolet-FNR (Find New Roads) concept vehicle developed by GM’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center joint venture in Shanghai.

“The Chevrolet-FNR is one of Chevrolet’s most forward-thinking concept cars, truly exemplifying the brand’s passion for innovation and ingenuity,” said Alan Batey, GM executive vice president and president of GM North America and Global Chevrolet.

(Click Here for details about Ford taking a 50% hit to its Q1 earnings.)

Ford Motor Co. reported selling more than 250,000 vehicles in the first three months of 2017, down 19% compared to the same time in 2016. Ford and its joint ventures sold more than 90,000 vehicles in March, down 21% compared to March 2016.

Ford, however, has debuted the new version of the Ford Mustang at event in Shanghai.

The new edition of the muscle car was unveiled in memorable fashion with the help of members of the Mustang Club of China, a grassroots fan club. China’s best-selling sports coupe after just two years on the market, Mustang is taking a leap forward thanks to a host of improvements, including a refreshed design, new technology, enhanced performance and new MagneRide suspension technology.

First introduced to China in January 2015, Mustang is now set to gallop even further ahead of the chasing pack, building on a strong 2016 that saw 44% year-on-year sales growth.

“Mustang has captured Ford’s passion for making incredible cars for over 50 years and it has been amazing to watch Chinese consumers make it their own,” said Peter Fleet, vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford Asia Pacific.

“We know they’re going to love the new Mustang, with its performance enhancements and smart technologies that make it even more rewarding to drive.”

The company plans to introduce its best-selling Built Ford Tough truck brand in China in 2018 to pursue growth opportunities in the country’s emerging pickup market.

“We’re very excited to bring Built Ford Tough, one of the world’s best loved and most successful brands, to customers in the world’s largest auto market,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO.

(To see more about Ford China sales jump in China in February, Click Here.)

While pickups currently represent less than two percent of the market, China is already the fourth-largest truck market in the world with 14% growth last year. Ford recently completed extensive market research to better understand Chinese attitudes, wants and needs when it comes to trucks.

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