Ford to spend $600M to hike China production

Ford Motor Co. is jointly investing another $600 million in its southwest China factory to raise annual production by over 50 percent to help meet its goal of selling 8 million cars a year by 2015.

Ford said on Thursday the investment with joint venture partner Changan Ford Mazda Automobile would raise annual production to 950,000 at the Chongqing plant, already Ford's biggest factory outside southwest Michigan.

The new investment will increase Ford's total investment in China to approximately $4.1 billion, the company said.

The new investment comes as Changan Ford Mazda — a joint venture among Ford, Mazda Motor and Chongqing Changan Automobile — is set to recall over 62,000 cars to fix faulty anti-lock braking systems.

It also follows remarks from Ford this week that it will post a "small loss" in Asia in the first quarter even though it raised its U.S. sales forecast for the year.

The loss was attributed to major new investment in new products such as the mid-sized pickup truck Ford Ranger in Asia and Africa, the launch of the Ford Focus in China, and the expense of an expanded Chongqing plant.

Ford said on Thursday that a bigger Chongqing plant, which will have a new assembly line, body and paint shop, would help the automaker meet its 2015 goal of raising global sales by nearly 50 percent to about 8 million cars a year.

Ford is a relatively late-starter in China, where General Motors and Volkswagen AG have a sizeable lead.

To narrow the gap, Ford plans to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015, starting with the new Focus model that is set to hit Chinese showrooms in the second quarter.

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