SHANGHAI -- Ford Motor Co. posted on Tuesday a more than 22 percent jump in first-half vehicle sales in China, as it expanded aggressively in the world's third-largest vehicle market.
Chinese retail sales for Ford, a relative latecomer to a competitive market led by rivals Volkswagen AG and General Motors, amounted to 33,621 vehicles from January to June, including imports.
The U.S. giant said sales growth was driven by demand for the Maverick, a compact sport-utility vehicle. It will begin taking orders from Aug. 1 for its locally produced Focus compact car, which is expected to drive growth in the second half of 2005, Ford said in a statement sent to Reuters.
Ford said in May it expected car sales in China to jump at least 50 percent in 2005 to about 100,000 units, which should increase the automaker's market share as well as translate into a profit for its Chinese venture this year.
Analysts reckon China's car market will expand 10 to 15 percent this year, matching growth in 2004 but well off the near-doubling of 2003.
Just 1 percent of Ford's global sales last year came from China, which contributed less than a fifth of Asia Pacific sales in 2004.
But the automaker intends to invest $1 billion in China in coming years. It has said it is expanding a plant in Chongqing to make 200,000 cars a year in 2005.
Along with Japanese partner Mazda Motor Corp. and Chinese partner Changan Automobile Co. Ltd., Ford is building another factory in the eastern city of Nanjing with initial annual capacity of 160,000, rising to 400,000 eventually.