SHANGHAI -- Ford Motor Co. is counting on the launch of the redesigned Fiesta to round out its lineup and boost sales in China, where Ford is playing catch-up.
Ford sold 160,000 cars in China last year, down 6.5 percent in a market that grew 6.9 percent overall.
This year Ford wants to exceed the industrys overall growth. The government in Beijing is targeting a 10 percent rise in vehicle sales.
The Fiesta, which comes to the United States in 2010 and was Europes best-selling model in March, will be key to the expansion.
The Fiesta hatchback and sedan went on sale here March 6. Sales in the first month exceeded expectations, said Robert Graziano, vice president of Fords China operations.
It is Fords first entry-level offering in China, and is generating more dealer traffic in an auto market that, including commercial vehicles, could eclipse the United States this year as the worlds biggest.
Were getting a bit of an uplift across the board just with the launch of the Fiesta, Graziano told Automotive News Monday at the Shanghai motor show. Weve got people coming in now who are interested in the Fiesta, and were able to talk to them about the Focus story or the Mondeo story.
To tailor the Fiesta to the local market, Ford outfitted the car with more leather trim, offered a broader palette of color choices and tuned the suspension to be softer than in Europe to better accommodate Chinas bumpy roads.