SHANGHAI -- Ford Motor Co. is on a rampage in China, with sales soaring and the brand jumping to No. 5 in the sales ranking in the first two months of the year from eighth a year earlier.
Executives are confident they can improve on their 4.3 percent market share by outpacing the market's expected 7 percent growth with an onslaught of new product, including a new Taurus flagship sedan and a clutch of new performance cars, plus a rapid expansion of Lincoln dealerships.
"There is still a lot of growth, we believe, over the next four or five years," said David Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific.
Last year, the automaker's sales in China grew 20 percent to 1.1 million vehicles. That was more than double Ford's total of 483,288 in 2010. Sales rose 9 percent to 296,825 in the first three months of 2015, outpacing the market's 4 percent gain. All figures include passenger and commercial vehicles.
By year end, Ford will have capacity to build 1.9 million vehicles in China, including 1.4 million passenger cars. The company will add 200,000 vehicles to that by the end of next year after taking over a factory from Changan Hafei in the northern city of Harbin.
Ford Motor China CEO John Lawler said 2015 growth should beat the 7 percent gain forecast by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, but he didn't give a sales target.
Ford ranked No. 5 in brand sales through February, the latest data from LMC Automotive showed. A blitz of new product should help keep the momentum.
The automaker introduced the Ford Performance vehicle lineup for the Asia Pacific market at the Shanghai auto show.
Ford also will plug a big hole in its lineup by launching a designed-for-China Taurus sedan. Full-size sedans are an important segment in image-conscious China, where well-heeled customers prefer riding in spacious rear seats. Sales of full-size passenger cars rose 13 percent through February and are expected to top 730,000 for the year, IHS Automotive says.
Also on sale this year are a new Everest SUV, a redesigned Explorer SUV and a re-engineered Edge crossover. They will tap China's red-hot SUV market, which jumped 54 percent in March.
Ford has about 800 dealers and is expanding rapidly in the smaller, up-and-coming markets of the interior, executives said. They didn't give a target number of outlets.
Lincoln also is stepping up its product and dealership offensive. The brand, which was relaunched in China only last year, will introduce the MKX this year and the Continental next year.
It also will expand its 11-outlet dealer network to 14 by year end and 60 by the end of 2016, Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra said.
Separately, several other automakers laid out plans to build their China operations. Here are some of them: