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Ford's sales in China grew 3.7% in 2021, GM's remained flat

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.'s sales in Greater China ticked up 3.7% in 2021 compared with 2020, while rival General Motors Co.'s year-over-year sales in the world's largest auto market stayed flat amid an ongoing semiconductor chip shortage that hampered vehicle production worldwide last year.

Ford sold approximately 624,000 vehicles in China and Taiwan last year, up from 602,627 sales in 2020. GM, meanwhile, sold about 2.9 million vehicles in China, the same as it did in 2020.

In the fourth quarter, Ford sold more than 167,000 vehicles in the region, up 11.9% from the previous quarter. 

Underpinning the overall growth in sales was Ford's luxury Lincoln division, which notched a record 91,000 sales for the year — outselling Lincoln in the U.S., where the brand had just under 87,000 sales, and surpassing by nearly 50% the brand's 2020 China sales of roughly 61,700 units. In the fourth quarter, Lincoln sales were up 13.1% year-over-year.

"Ford starts 2022 with strong momentum from the execution of our China 2.0 plans centered on a robust portfolio and electrification," Anning Chen, president and CEO of Ford China, said in a statement. "The steady rollout of new vehicles — including the locally built Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford EVOS and Lincoln Zephyr — combined with the launch of Ford's network of direct-to-customer battery electric vehicle stores positions us well for growth ahead."

Lincoln debuted its first locally-produced sedan – the all-new Lincoln Zephyr – in China at Auto Guangzhou.

In 2021, Ford began building out a direct sales network for its electric vehicles in the region and in the fall launched the locally-assembled version of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E to customers in China, which is the top country for EV sales. The automaker so far has opened 25 direct-to-consumer stores for battery-electric vehicles as part of a plan to establish a network of more than 100 stores in major cities across China.

Ford-branded passenger vehicle sales of approximately 237,000 units were down 1.4% from 2020. Ford SUV sales of more than 140,000 units were up 0.6%. The automaker also reported "strong demand" for sedans, with sales up for models such as the Ford Mondeo and Ford Taurus.

On the commercial vehicle side, Ford and its manufacturing partner Jiangling Motors Corporation reported 264,000 sales in 2021, down 1.8% year-over-year. Ford Transit sales were up 1.4%. And JMC brand commercial vehicle sales of more than 211,000 units were down 2.2%.

Ford does not break down by segment or brand the vehicles it sells in Taiwan, but those units are part of the total sales number the automaker reports.

The release did not provide breakdown of vehicles sold in Taiwan which are counted as part of the 624,000 total as part of Ford’s Greater China results.

Detroit's automakers historically have struggled to succeed in China. Ford's sales there had been pulled down by lack of demand for an aging vehicle lineup, but recently have improved since the automaker launched its China 2.0 strategy aimed at accelerating the changeover of its lineup and introducing more locally-made vehicles in line with the preferences of customers in the region.

General Motors Co. too, has sought to realign its lineup in China. The Detroit automaker noted in its sales release earlier this week that it has an "intensive launch cadence" planned for its brands in China in 2022. More than 20 new and refreshed models will be introduced, with the focus on luxury and premium models as well as new energy vehicles including EVs.

“As the challenges brought by the macro environment persisted, we stayed focused on delivering high-quality products and services to satisfy our customers while moving forward on our commitment to create a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” Julian Blissett, GM executive vice president and president of GM China, said in a statement. “We are optimistic about the outlook for the industry and our performance in 2022.”

By brand, Cadillac had record sales of more than 230,000 units in 2021. Buick delivered nearly 820,000 units, while Chevrolet deliveries totaled about 230,000 vehicles. Baojun had more than 210,000 sales and Wuling sold about 1.4 million units.

As GM accelerates its shift toward zero-emissions vehicles and aims to hit ambitious electrification targets, the automaker noted that a "wide spectrum" of vehicle models on its Ultium platform, across Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet, will be introduced in China, led by the forthcoming Cadillac Lyriq. GM's first Ultium Center, where battery packs for locally-built EVs are assembled, opened in Shanghai in October.

Meanwhile, data and analytics firm GlobalData on Friday released a new report Friday predicting that China will maintain its dominance in the EV market in 2022.

“In 2020, 48% of all EVs on the road could be found in China — more than the combined figure for the US and Europe. China’s EV fleet will be 60% of the world’s total by 2030," GlobalData analyst Amrit Dhami said in a statement. “China’s large domestic market, raw materials access, and favorable government policies mean it will continue to dominate the EV landscape and won’t be as disadvantaged by the lithium shortage."

In the U.S., Ford's sales fell 6.8% in 2021 to about 1.9 million. GM's U.S. sales slid 13% to roughly 2.2 million vehicles — and the automaker ceded its No. 1 U.S. sales position for the first time in 90 years. 


Twitter: @JGrzelewski