UPDATE 1-Ford's China car JV sales down 6 pct in 2008

Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:33am EST

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SHANGHAI Jan 12 (Reuters) - Car sales at Ford Motor's (F.N) China car venture fell 5.9 percent in 2008 after jumping 60 percent in 2007 as a slowing economy curbed demand.

All major foreign automakers have reported slower growth in China last year amid a market slowdown after years of double-digit expansion.

Changan Ford Mazda, a joint venture between Ford, its affiliate Mazda Motor Co (7261.T) and China's Changan Automobile Co 000625.SZ, sold 204,334 vehicles last year, the U.S. automaker said in a statement on Monday. Sales totalled 217,100 units in 2007.

Ford also holds a 30 percent stake in its commercial vehicle tie-up with Jiangling Motors Corp 000550.SZ, which makes Ford Transit van and Jiangling brand vans and pick-up trucks.

Overall sales of Ford and its two China ventures came to 306,306 vehicles, it said.

A Ford China spokeswoman declined to provide comparable data as the sales for Jaguar and Land Rover were not taken into account for the first time after the sale of the brands to India's Tata Motor (TAMO.BO) last year.

Sales of Ford's commercial vehicle tie-up were also fully accounted for in its overall China sales in 2008 for the first time, she said. Only sales of Transit models were accounted for previously.

An official source told Reuters on Monday that China's cabinet will discuss concrete steps this weeks to support its slumping auto and steel industries.

Proposals for the auto industry include reducing or even abolishing taxes on car purchases from the current 10 percent level and incentives for the development of cleaner cars, according to earlier state media reports.

Earlier, General Motors' (GM.N) reported its China sales rose 6.1 percent to 1.09 million vehicles, down sharply from 18.5 percent growth in 2007.

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) sold around 585,000 vehicles last year, up 17 percent compared with growth of 62 percent previously, and Honda Motor's (7267.T) sales rose 11.7 percent to 473,297 units, down from growth of 30.6 percent previously.

Sales of Volkswagen (VOWG.DE) in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau increased 12.5 percent to 1.02 million vehicles, down from 28 percent growth previously. (Reporting by Fang Yan, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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