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Ford to Bring Luxury Car Brand to China

The company had previously announced plans to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015.

Ford Motor Co.  (IW 500/6) said Tuesday it would bring its Lincoln brand to China in two years, pitching the vehicle to the luxury segment of the world's largest car market.

Lincoln cars, Ford's luxury brand, would be available in China in the second half of 2014, the company said.

As the world's largest auto market, China has become increasingly important to foreign players like Ford and General Motors.

"With Lincoln, we will be expanding our product offering to cover China's fast-growing luxury car segment," Dave Schoch, chairman and chief executive officer of Ford Motor China, said in the statement.

Ford has previously announced plans to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015.

But the latest announcement comes even as growth in China's auto sales slows, hit by an economic slowdown and limits by some Chinese cities on vehicle numbers out of concerns over congestion and pollution.

China's overall vehicle sales rose just 2.5% to 18.51 million units in 2011, compared with an annual increase of more than 32% in 2010, according to a Chinese industry group.

Some foreign brands have managed to buck the slowdown with strong brand recognition and perceptions of better quality among domestic consumers.

In the first seven months of this year, Ford sold 319,882 vehicles in China, up 4% from the same period last year.

Ford is building five new plants in China, which will double the company's production capacity in the country to 1.2 million passenger vehicles annually, the statement said.

The company has five manufacturing facilities currently operating in the country.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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