SHANGHAI -- These are heady days for Ford Motor Co., which last week reported its largest first-quarter profit in 12 years. But here in the world's No. 1 market, Ford is an also-ran, albeit an also-ran with a plan.
Last year Ford ranked eighth among the big international auto groups in passenger-vehicle sales in China, trailing Volkswagen, General Motors, Hyundai, Renault-Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Peugeot-Citroen. GM outsells Ford more than 3-to-1 in this country, and Volkswagen Group does so by better than 5-to-1.
Ford is growing in China, as is pretty much every automaker. But with a 2.0 percent market share, it is in danger of being relegated for generations to China's second tier of international players.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford's top man in the Asia Pacific and Africa regions, aims to change that.
"We know these competitors," said Hinrichs, who was Ford's top manufacturing executive before being dispatched to Asia in November 2009. "They are the same ones we compete against in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. It's not like we don't know how to compete with them."