Sales of Ford Motor Co.'s models in China decline for the third year in a row by 26.1%, less than half of what the auto giant sold in 2016, and they could get even worse in 2020, said the company. In the fourth quarter of 2019, Ford's sales dropped 14.7%.
In 2018, sales declined 2.8%, halting a growth march that started in the 1990s. Ford Motor Co's China vehicle sales fell for a third consecutive year, by 26.1 per cent, as it battles a prolonged overall sales decline in its second-biggest market that has hit demand for its mass-market Ford brand and sports utility vehicles.
Global brands that until now were required to work through joint ventures with state-owned Chinese partners were allowed full ownership in electric vehicle manufacturing starting previous year, reflecting official confidence local brands can compete directly with foreign rivals.
Sales in the industry's biggest global market declined 9.6 percent from 2018 levels to 21.4 million sedans, SUVs and minivans, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
It also said it would localize management teams by hiring more Chinese staff and aimed to improve relationships with joint venture partners.
Ford has been struggling to revive sales in China after its business began slumping in late 2017.
"We expect the market downturn to continue in 2020, and anticipate ongoing headwinds in our China business", Matt Tsien, president of GM China, said last week as the automaker reported a 15% drop in sales in 2019.
New models it launched in the fourth quarter include a new Ford Escape version - for which the automaker said orders received so far have been much higher than expected - and the Lincoln Corsair, the first localized Lincoln model in China.
But it remained cautious about 2020, echoing bearish comments about sales in China from General Motors Co. More than half of that total was accounted for by sales of lower-cost Chinese SUVs, which sank 4.2% to 4.9 million.
Volkswagen AG said sales rose 1.7% to 3.2 million, edging past GM to at least temporarily claim the status of China's biggest auto brand. December sales fell 38 percent to 43,179.
China's new New Energy Vehicle (NEV) policy is mainly led by MIIT, whose top official, Miao Wei, confirmed on Saturday that NEV subsidies would remain "relatively stable" in 2020.