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Ford Chief Mulally Opens $300 Million Factory in China

Ford Motor Co.’s Chinese commercial-vehicle making partner opened a $300 million assembly plant, more than doubling its production capacity in the world’s biggest auto market.

Jiangling Motors Corp., which counts Ford as its second-biggest shareholder, opened the JMC Xiaolan plant that adds 300,000 vehicles in annual capacity to the existing 245,000 units, Ford said in a statement today. The factory will be used to make both Ford- and JMC-branded vehicles.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford is investing $4.9 billion in China to try to catch up with General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG. While behind GM in China, Ford is growing at a faster pace and the second-biggest U.S. carmaker plans to begin sales of its Lincoln luxury cars in China next year.

“Ford’s expansion in China this year exceeded our expectation,” said John Zeng, Shanghai-based managing director at LMC Automotive. “Ford holds all the aces in China this year as its new products are well accepted by Chinese buyers.”

The company is the fastest growing major foreign automaker in China this year with vehicle sales surging 48 percent in the first five months, spurred by demand for its EcoSport and Kuga sport-utility vehicles.

To further widen its product lineup, Ford said it will bring two new global products through Jiangling Motors. It plans to make a new Ford commercial vehicle and new Ford SUV, Ford said.

Ford and Jiangling Motors also announced plans to build an engine plant with initial annual capacity of 200,000 units.

Jiangling, which began making Transit vans in 1997, sold 94,208 vehicles in the first five months, 7.6 percent more than a year earlier, according to the company.

Ford fell 3.3 percent to $14.82 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 14 percent this year, compared with an 11 percent climb for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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