Ford changes gear with plan for new brands

FORD yesterday revealed it is in talks with local partners to introduce Chinese-only brands as it plays catch-up in the world’s biggest car market with rivals General Motors and Volkswagen.

David Schoch, chairman and chief executive of Ford’s China operations, said: “We are always in discussions with our joint-venture partners. We are studying indigenous brands, but our total focus in terms of brand enhancement is on the Ford brand.”

China’s vehicles market is likely to expand by about 5 per cent this year and the pace of growth is likely to be sustained over the next few years, Schoch added. China’s 2011 vehicles sales stood at 18.5 million.

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Ford – which makes its Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo models in China in a three-way tie-up with Chongqing Changan Automobile and Japan’s Mazda – is a relative latecomer in China, where General Motors and Germany’s Volkswagen have a sizeable lead.