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Ford banking on SUVs for Chinese market

April 20, 2012 at 4:35 PM

DEARBORN, Mich., April 20 (UPI) -- U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. said it was playing catch-up in China and would do so with a lineup of SUVs.

"Ford is relatively behind in China compared to Volkswagen and General Motors. We have work to do in the biggest market in the world," said company spokesman Mark Schirmer.

The Detroit News reported Friday Ford plans to launch 15 new models in China by 2015 and would introduce four new vehicles to the Chinese market at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition next week.

Three of the four would be SUVs.

The lineup for next week's show includes the Focus ST, Explorer, EcoSport mini SUV and Kuga, which U.S. consumers know as the Ford Escape.

The additional SUVs added to the Chinese market makes China the only market in which Ford presents its entire SUV lineup, the News reported.

The EcoSport, for example, had previously been sold only in Brazil.

In China it will be outfitted with a three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, which has only been available in Europe.

"Ford's expansion in China is long overdue and speaks well for the potential of the firm," said John Holsapple, founder of consulting firm Sino Ambassadors, which is based in Michigan.

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