Ford (NYSE:F) ended its calendar first quarter in China with a bang, as Chinese consumers bought 103,815 vehicles for the month of March, a 28 percent gain over the same period last year. It’s also the first time that Ford’s monthly Chinese sales have pierced the 100,000-unit marker, which is surely a celebratory accomplishment. For the first quarter, sales peaked at 271,321 vehicles, a 45 percent increase over the same three months of last year.
“We’re pleased that China’s car buyers continue to choose Ford,” said John Lawler, chairman and CEO of Ford China, in the company’s statement. “Our strong sales momentum demonstrates the success of our accelerated China growth plan and puts Ford in a great position as we get ready to showcase our full product lineup at the Beijing Auto Show.”
Passenger car sales jumped 30 percent to 71,888 for March, and for the first three months of the year, gained 52 percent at 195,198 units over the year-ago quarter. Through its local joint venture, commercial vehicle sales for last month hit 28,501 units, an 11 percent uptick year-on-year, while first-quarter sales were up 19 percent, to 67,125 units.
Ford’s car sales, which include the Explorer, Edge, Focus ST, and the Fiesta ST, all of which are imported into the country, saw gains of 57 percent during the first quarter, with 204,196 cars sold. The comparable figure from last year was 130,176, during the first quarter of 2013. During March, these sales were up 35 percent to 75,314 cars, in comparison to the 55,787 during the same period last year, Ford said.
The Ford Kuga, which is known in the United States as the Escape, has sold more than 120,000 units since its introduction in the Chinese market in February of last year. The crossover SUV sold 12,107 vehicles last month, up 26 percent over March 2013.
Ford has yet to launch its Lincoln brand in the country, which it is planning to do this summer. Based on the warm reception of brands like Cadillac and Buick, it’s expected that Ford’s new line of cars will go over very well with Chinese consumers.
Despite poor weather conditions slowing sales in the U.S. during the first couple of months of 2014, China hasn’t been subjected to such dips and has been relied on by automakers as a safety net to offset weak sales in other global markets.