GM, Ford China sales rise in March

Michael Martinez and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Sales in China at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. rose last month as both automakers attempt to grow market share and capacity there this year.

Ford’s sales climbed 1 percent to 104,842 vehicles, while GM’s sales rose 8 percent year-over-year to a March record 338,350 vehicles.

In recent years, Ford has invested billions in manufacturing in China and has leapfrogged automakers like Toyota Motor Corp. in sales there. Last month, Ford opened its sixth assembly plant in China and increased its capacity by 250,000 vehicles.

It promised to deliver 15 new vehicles to China by 2015, launched its Lincoln brand there last November and later this month will reveal its new global Taurus sedan ahead of the Shanghai auto show.

GM has been one of the best-selling automakers in China for years. Last year, the company and its joint ventures sold a record 3.54 million vehicles and upped market share by 0.6 percentage points to 14.8 percent.

Buick sales fell 0.2 percent to 78,659 vehicles last month compared to March 2014, while Chevrolet sales inched up 3.1 percent to 57,751 vehicles. Cadillac sales jumped 75.6 percent to 9,197 vehicles, led by the ATS-L and ATS.

The Detroit automaker said sales of Baojun vehicles soared 599.8 percent on an annual basis to 33,659 vehicles. Wuling sales fell 0.7 percent from a year ago to 158,628 vehicles. GM blamed the drop on “continued weakness in the mini-commercial vehicle segment.” The company said it is moving its Wuling vehicle portfolio from mini-commercial vehicles to multi-purpose vehicles.

GM and its joint ventures sold more than 3.5 million vehicles last year in China, GM’s largest sales market.

Ford’s China sales were driven by the Mondeo and Escort passenger cars. Mondeo year-to-date sales are up 7 percent.

Through the first three months of the year, Ford’s China sales are up 9 percent compared to the first quarter of last year.