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Ford says China sales up 14 percent in first half

FORD Motor Co. said its sales in China surged 14 percent in the first half of 2009, another positive sign for global automakers that are counting on China to drive revenues as they struggle in North America.

Ford sales in China totaled 197,212 vehicles from January to June, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker said today. It said passenger car sales climbed 20 percent and were up 55 percent from a year earlier in June alone.

Automakers are counting on China's relatively healthy sales, boosted by government stimulus programs, to help drive global revenues amid lackluster demand in North America and other major markets.

General Motors Corp. reported last week its China sales soared 38 percent in the first half from a year earlier on strong demand for minivans and other small vehicles.

China's passenger car sales shot up 46.8 percent in May from a year earlier, the latest month for which data have been reported, according to the state-sanctioned China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

For the first five months of the year, sales climbed 21 percent from the same period of 2008, the group said.

By contrast, US sales in June plunged 28 percent from a year earlier to 859,847 vehicles, according to research firm Autodata Corp.

Ford has remained independent while Detroit rivals GM and Chrysler Group LLC sought government aid and court protection from creditors. But all three have suffered double-digit US sales declines, boosting the importance of China and other developing markets.

China's auto sales have been helped by government incentives including sales tax cuts and subsidies for replacing older vehicles. China outpaced the United States this year in monthly sales through April, though it fell back to second place in May due to a jump in American purchases.

Analysts expect China's auto sales to top 10 million vehicles this year, and an industry group, the China Passenger Car Association, is forecasting sales in excess of 11 million units.

Ford said sales at its Chinese passenger car joint-venture, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, rose 20 percent in the first half to 140,386 vehicles. It said the Fiesta, which debuted in China in March, has sold 18,224 units.

Ford's commercial vehicle unit, Jiangling Motors Corp., reported first-half sales of 53,327 units.


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