Ford, partners increase investment in China engine plant

BEIJING/SHANGHAI Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:10am EST

A Ford logo is seen on a 2011 Ford Explorer at the Ford assembly plant in Chicago, Illinois, December 1, 2010. REUTERS/Frank Polich

A Ford logo is seen on a 2011 Ford Explorer at the Ford assembly plant in Chicago, Illinois, December 1, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Frank Polich

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BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N), Mazda Motor Corp (7203.T) and their partner in China have agreed to invest an additional $37.3 million in their engine plant venture, following surging sales of Ford cars including its latest Focus model.

Ford, Mazda and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co 000625.SZ will increase their investment in the engine plant in Chongqing city according to their shareholdings, which are 25 percent, 25 percent and 50 percent, respectively, the Chinese firm said in a statement on Wednesday.

The plant produces engines for cars including the Ford J53 and J36 models, an official at Chongqing Changan Automobile said by telephone.

Ford Motor's China car sales have risen in recent months as consumers shun Japanese brands because of a lingering territorial row between China and Japan. The dispute has also benefitted other foreign automakers such as General Motors (GM.N) and BMW (BMWG.DE) and Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS).

Ford's October vehicle sales in China jumped 48 percent from a year earlier, outpacing a 5.3 percent gain in the country's overall market, company data show.

The Focus model, launched in late April, has been selling so well that workers at Ford's Chongqing car plant in southwest China have added shifts to keep up with demand, according the Trevor Hale, the firm's Shanghai-based China spokesman.

The engine venture, which also makes engines for Madza models, will probably shut some old production lines following the latest investment, the official at Chongqing Changan Automobile said, without elaborating.

(Reporting by Fang Yan in BEIJING and Kazunori Takada in SHANGHAI; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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