The World’s Top Auto Market Is Tanking — Ford Is Doing Worse

Ford Motor‘s (F) China auto sales tanked in September, far outpacing the overall sales decline that was the largest drop in seven years.


Ford joins General Motors (GM) in reporting a major slowdown as the world’s largest auto market cools, with President Trump’s China trade war threatening economic growth.

Ford’s China sales totaled 64,383 vehicles in September, tumbling 43% year over year. Year to date, sales of 585,000 units marked a 30% decline.

Sales of vehicles that Ford imports into China sank 16% last month, led by a 71% drop for the Mustang. Monthly sales for Ford’s Changan joint venture slid 55%, while its Jiangling JV saw sales fall 15%. The Lincoln brand saw sales climb 1% in September, as the luxury car market in China continues to hold up.

Ford Focus sales in China were down 61% in September and are down 51% year to date.

Overall China auto sales sank 12% to 2.39 million units last month, the third straight drop, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. China’s car sales fell the most in nearly seven years in September, Reuters said.

GM China Auto Sales

Rival GM is also seeing declines in China auto sales but not as bad as Ford’s. On Monday, GM and its JVs reported delivering 835,934 vehicles in China in the third quarter. Sales shrank 15% from a year earlier “due to the softening vehicle market,” they said.

GM’s quarterly sales in China decreased for the first time in more than a year. Year to date, GM China auto sales are down 2.5%.

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Ford stock fell 1.9% to 8.64 on the stock market today, hitting its worst level since November 2009. GM slid 1.6%, Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) dipped 0.2% and Tesla (TSLA) jumped 2.6%. Recent IPO and China electric-car maker Nio (NIO) bounced 3.6%.

Ford, GM China Turnaround Plans

Both Ford and GM highlighted comeback strategies for the crucial Chinese market.

“We are intensely focused on our sales turnaround plan in China, which includes an aggressive cadence of product introductions to meet the needs of our Chinese customers, including the launch of the highly anticipated all-new Ford Focus,” said Peter Fleet, CEO of Ford China.

GM reported that it’s “building market resilience through an improved product mix, with a focus on SUVs, MPVs (multipurpose vehicles) and luxury vehicles — the segments with the strongest demand.”

It launched four new models in Q3 and plans two more launches in Q4.

BMW on Thursday said it will take control of its China joint venture and expand manufacturing in that country amid rising import tariffs in a tit-for-tat trade war.


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