DETROIT -- The finance arm of Ford Motor Co. is gearing up to provide loans to vehicle buyers in China, the world's fastest-growing car market, the automaker said on Monday.
Ford Credit -- which finances new, used, and leased vehicles and also offers fleet financing -- said it had won regulatory approval to begin setting up financing operations in China and plans to invest an initial $60 million in the country.
It will offer loans to consumers and over 100 Ford dealers already doing business in the world's most populous nation, the company said.
"China is an important market for Ford Motor Co. and Ford Credit's approach is to build a foundation that will support the company's commitment to China," Mike Bannister, Ford Credit's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Ford recently announced it will build a new assembly plant in Nanjing as part of its $1 billion expansion plan in the country. The automaker already has two other plants in China.
Ford will begin providing car loans in mid-2005, Mike Kozel, president of Ford Credit's Asia Pacific operations, told Reuters.
Ford's cross-town rival General Motors, which has aggressively expanded in China, won government approval to provide car loans last year.
Volkswagen AG, which commands 33 percent of the Chinese market, and Toyota Motor Corp. are also readying auto finance products there.
Ford Credit posted record net income of $897 million in the second quarter, up from $401 million a year earlier. It has about $179 billion in managed assets and 19,000 employees worldwide.