Ford, GM Say February China Sales Rose 30%

SHANGHAI ( TheStreet) -- Growth in China may be slowing, but GM ( GM) and Ford ( F) reported double-digit gains sales gains in China in February.

GM said sales rose 30%, to 240,554 units, while Ford reported a 28% gain to 40,978 units.
Growth in China may be slowing, but GM and Ford reported double-digit gains sales gains there in February.

GM, the market leader in China for the past seven years, said its February total was the third-highest for any month of its history in China, which began in 1908. Both automakers operate in China through joint ventures with Chinese companies.

Buick, a leading brand in China, reported a February sales gain of 31%, to 52,773 units, nearly four times February sales of 14,023 in the U.S. Sales of the Excelle family of Buicks rose 71%, to 23,564. China Chevrolet sales rose 24%, to 52,407, while Cruze sales rose 36%, to 20,662. In the U.S., Chevrolet sales totaled 151,197, while Cruze sales totaled 20,427.

In the first two months of 2012, GM and its joint ventures sold a record 487,208 cars and trucks in China, up 7.7% from the same period a year earlier.

Ford, which is plotting aggressive growth in China, opened a second vehicle assembly plant in Chongqing in February, bringing its passenger vehicle production capacity to 600,000 units annually. Ford now has four assembly plants in China and plans three more by the end of 2013. The new plant will build the New Focus, the first of 15 new vehicles Ford will introduce in China by 2015: Ford will also continue to sell a Classic Focus in China.

Overall, China auto sales rose by 22% in February, the biggest gain in 14 months. But Rao Da, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, told the newspaper China Daily that the such rapid gains are unlikely to continue. Auto sales in China gained just 2% for all of last year and declined by 1.4% in the the first two months of 2012.

"China's vehicle sales won't go back to skyrocketing as they did in 2009 and 2010 and as the country's economy continues to make a soft landing," Rao told the newspaper.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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