Ford’s China strategy: small can be big


Even as automotive sales in China cool, Ford sees big opportunity. And it’s not in the megacities, but in the country’s smaller locales.

“It’s clear we’ve seen a market slowdown,” CEO Mark Fields said during an earnings call Tuesday. Ford [fortune-stock symbol=”F”] saw commercial vehicle sales fall further than passenger vehicles, an indication of a slowing market. While it’s putting pressure on prices, Fields says it’s important to put China and its current market conditions into perspective.

“It’s the biggest market in the world right now,” Fields says. “By our forecasts it’s going to grow to about 30 million vehicles in the next 5 to 10 years. We’re still very bullish on China.”

The U.S. automaker is seeing larger percentage growths in so-called tier 3 to 6 cities, burgeoning, smaller metro areas that are located closer to rural populations. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, known as the big four, are…

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