Fri, Dec 03, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Ford introduces new vehicles to its Asian, African sales regions

By Jason Tan  /  Staff reporter, in Taoyuan

American Institute in Taiwan Director William Stanton, second left, Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford’s Asia-Pacific and Africa operations, second right, and Industrial Development Bureau -Director-General Woody Duh, right, smash an ice sculpture of the number 2 million yesterday to celebrate the two millionth car to come off Ford’s assembly line in Taiwan.

Photo: CNA

Ford Motor Co, the second--biggest US automaker, is unfazed by growing competition from the Asia--Pacific and African (APA) automobile industry and is aiming to grow its business with a rollout of more models to customers in the region.

“Ford, for many years, has not brought all its products to the APA for different reasons. But our plans for the next several years are to bring a significant number of great products and develop new ones to add to the current product portfolio for the APA,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford’s Asia-Pacific and Africa operations.

In Taiwan Ford will add four vehicle models within the next three years as part of its expansion plan in the region, he said.

Hinrichs refused to divulge the details, but said “most” of these models will be produced in Taiwan and are tailored for the consumers here.

“That [variety of offerings] gives us confidence and excitement when competing with all competitors in the APA, including Luxgen and Toyota,” he said.

Taiwan’s Yulon Motor Co (裕隆汽車) is set to introduce its own-brand vehicle Luxgen to China next year, after seeing great success on its home turf.

Luxgen boasts global positioning, night vision and blind-spot cameras — and at NT$800,000 (US$25,000), the company hopes it will appeal to tech-savvy and moderately wealthy Chinese consumers.

Hinrichs was in Taiwan for a one-night stopover to attend the 2 millionth vehicle rollout ceremony at Ford Lio Ho Co’s (福特六和) plant in Jhongli (中壢), Taoyuan County.

Set up in 1972, Ford Lio Ho is a joint venture between Ford and Lio Ho Group.

Ford predicts that over the next decade, 70 percent of the company’s business growth will be driven by the APA region, mainly China, India, South Africa and ASEAN, Hinrichs said.

The APA vehicle industry has a projected market of more than 30 million units this year, dominated by China, with 18 million, he said.

Ford lost US$86 million in the APA market last year, but it reversed the loss with earnings of US$166 million for the first three quarters on strong demand from China, where the second-largest contributor to GDP growth is the automotive sector.

“China is all about growth and the auto industry is growing very rapidly,” Hinrichs said.

The company said its vehicle sales in China for the first 10 months rose 40 percent from last year, and it is ushering in “record sales” for the year.

For Taiwan, the market is expected to improve next year, when as many as 330,000 cars are likely to be sold, Ford Lio Ho president Albert Li (李國寶) said.

“There is no sign of cooling down and my expectation is that the market next year will be steady at the minimum, but I see there could be some upside,” he said.

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