SHANGHAI -- Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday that it had sold 34,000 cars from its joint venture in China so far this year, double its nationwide sales for all of 2003, and putting it on track to hit a target of 65,000 units in 2004.
Ford said in a statement that it had sold 20,000 Mondeos and 14,000 Fiestas as of July 28, compared with 17,000 cars sold in 2003 when the Detroit company's local plant began operations.
Still, even if Ford does achieve its target, it remains a bit player in a hotly contested market.
Ford's car sales target for the year in China is less than 1 percent of its global production and about a tenth of archrival General Motors in China.
Last week, Ford said it was teaming up with Japanese partner Mazda Motor Corp. on a planned car factory in prosperous eastern China, as the two automakers played catch-up.
The plant in Nanjing, near China's richest city Shanghai, will be run by Ford's joint venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. and is part of a $1 billion expansion plan that the Detroit giant unveiled last year.
"We are on schedule to achieve the sales target," Ford said.
Ford's existing Chongqing factory was being expanded to produce 200,000 cars a year, a project expected to be completed by 2005, Ford said. The new Nanjing plant will have a similar capacity.
The Chongqing plant is expected to sell 65,000 units this year.
The project comes against a backdrop of slowing car sales in China as the government applies the brakes to a racing economy, prompting analysts to say the market may only grow 10 percent to 20 percent in 2004 compared with a near-doubling in 2003.
Car sales in China fell for the third straight month in June, industry figures show, as Beijing's efforts to rein in the economy kept buyers at bay and forced automakers to cut prices.
Multinationals such as Ford, GM and Volkswagen AG have unveiled plans to invest some $13 billion, tripling capacity to 6 million cars by the end of the decade, stoking fears of a margin-sapping glut just down the road.