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Ford fuels Chinese car sales with Fiesta

THE Ford Motor Co announced yesterday that first-half sales in China rose 14 percent from a year earlier thanks to better-than-expected performance of its low-cost Fiesta car.

The United States auto giant sold 197,212 vehicles during the first six months of this year, it said in a statement yesterday. Last week General Motors Corp reported a 38 percent growth in first-half sales.

China's auto market has been recovering with government incentive programs, and leading global auto makers are counting on the Chinese market to offset sliding sales in their home markets.

Ford said sales at its Chinese passenger car joint-venture, Chang'an Ford Mazda Automobile, rose 20 percent in the first half to 140,386 vehicles. It said the fuel-efficient Fiesta has sold 18,224 units since its launch in March.

"The incredible popularity of our new Fiesta underpinned continued strong demand among Chinese consumers," Robert Graziano, chairman of Ford Motor China, said in the statement.

China is subsidizing vehicle buyers in rural areas and halved purchase tax on cars with engines up to 1.6 liters in a successful attempt to revive the flagging industry.

The China Passenger Car Association predicted that vehicle sales in the country would grow 17 percent this year from 2008, outpacing the 6.7 percent rise last year.


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