Ford is often referred to as a laggard in China, but try telling that to Toyota.
No doubt, Ford was a latecomer to the world's fastest growing auto market, with a lot of catching up to do. But it may be time to retire the L-word.
Spurred by several new models and a plant construction binge, sales by Ford and its two joint venture partners shot up 49 percent in 2013 to 935,813, in a light-vehicle market that grew 16 percent. That sent Ford past Toyota to become China's fifth-largest foreign automaker, the first time since at least 2001 that Ford has outsold Toyota in China.
In fact, Toyota and its two joint venture partners had a good year, too, with sales up 9 percent to 917,500. That was a company record.
Ford's new-model offensive included the Kuga and EcoSport crossovers and the Mondeo and Focus cars. In 2012, Ford had 14 assembly or powertrain plants in China. By 2015, that number will grow to 24.
While Ford passed Toyota and Honda in China, it still has a long way to go to surpass market leaders General Motors and Volkswagen. Ford also trails Nissan and Hyundai-Kia. Both GM and VW are expected to report sales of more than 3 million units in China.