Ford's China struggle continues as May vehicle sales slump 29 percent

BEIJING (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's F.N struggle to boost sales in China showed no sign of ending soon with volumes for May sliding 29 percent despite steps being taken by the U.S. automaker like appointing a new sales leader and readying launches of new products.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors look at Ford models at Auto Guangzhou in Guangzhou, China November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The company’s sales volumes in the world’s biggest auto market fell in May to 61,744 vehicles from a year earlier, Ford said on Friday.

That took sales volumes for the first five months of the year to 338,386 vehicles, down 22 percent from the corresponding period a year ago.

Ford has been dealing with the sales slump since last year, caused in part by a dearth of competitive fresh products.

The company has since announced plans for several new products including the redesigned Focus and Escort cars, as well as the Nautilus, a new premium Lincoln model Ford is gearing to sell soon.

The problem is those new models won’t start arriving in dealer showrooms until later this year.

“We are progressing our China 2025 strategy by introducing a series of new products..., sharpening our operational execution, and improving our business fitness as we prepare for a new chapter of growth,” Peter Fleet, head of Ford’s Asia Pacific operations, said in a statement.

Ford earlier this month announced a new sales leader for its premium Lincoln brand, appointing Mao Jingbo, a former Mercedes-Benz China senior executive, to replace the current leader Amy Marentic, who is returning to the United States to assume a new position at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

Its sales fell 6 percent last year even as overall vehicle sales in China rose 3 percent.

Fleet has said Ford sales probably won’t likely regain momentum in China until next year when the first of the wave of new vehicle models arrive in showrooms in large enough numbers.

Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman