The auto industry as we know it today has been around for well over 100 years. In this time, manufacturers have come to permeate most geographic markets, leading to static, if not declining, sales volumes in most nations. But there’s still one market in which automotive sales growth is skyrocketing. That market is China, and more cars were sold there in 2011 than in the United States. That’s why Ford just opened its new manufacturing plant in the city of Chongqing.
Officially called CFMA Chongqing Assembly 2, or CQ2, the plant is a joint venture between Changan Ford Mazda Automobile (CFMA) and Ford Motor Company, as Chinese law requires foreign automakers to partner with a local automotive company to do business in the country. The 1-million-square-meter highly-automated and environmentally-friendly assembly plant cost The Blue Oval $490 million (¥3.34 billion) and increases its passenger car capacity in the land of the Red Dragon by one-third — to 600,000 units (by 150,000 cars).
The plant will initially produce the new Focus and is designed for maximum flexibility. For instance, Ford has the ability to produce six different types of vehicles at the facility — a fitting amount given that the automaker will offer 10 variants off the Focus’ global C platform to be built at CQ2 and elsewhere. In fact, the company will sell 2 million vehicles based on this architecture in 2012. The increased flexibility at CQ2 allows Ford to bring new vehicles to market faster than ever before while testing new vehicle manufacturing at full production speed.
CQ2 is CFMA’s second assembly plant in Chongqing and its third overall in China, making Chongqing Ford’s largest global manufacturing location outside southeast Michigan. The plant underlines The Blue Oval’s aggressive expansion strategy into the Asia Pacific and Africa region.
For those who are not fond of buying American-branded goods made elsewhere in the world, don’t worry: the vehicles made at Chongqing will not be exported to Europe or, more importantly, North America.
The Motrolix Take
This is business development at its finest — exactly what it takes to grow sales volume in China. In that regard, good going, Ford.
Now, how about making a Lincoln or two at CQ2 to sell to the Chinese? The brand and its products, which are not available in China, seem a perfect fit given that GM’s Buick is the most popular luxury marque in the country.