Ford Lio Ho Gears Up For Car Exports

Feb 26, 2004 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Auto Parts and Accessories Ι By Quincy, CENS
facebook twitter google+ Pin It plurk

Ford Lio Ho Motor Co., which produces both Ford and Mazda automobiles in Taiwan, announced recently that it was working to gain approval for the local production of new Ford models. Plans call for some of the new models to be marketed abroad through the parent company's global sales network.

The Mondeo Metrostar exhibits Ford Lio Ho`s strong design and manufacturing capability.

If everything goes smoothly, says the local company's president, Jeffery Shen, Ford Lio Ho will set a benchmark for local carmakers by being the first to export complete cars to Japan.

Ford has invested about NT$10 billion (US$300 million at NT$33.3:US$1) in the establishment and operation of the Ford New Car Design Center on the island over the past few years, giving the company a car-design capability that Shen claims is even stronger than that of Mazda in Japan (of which Ford owns a controlling interest). The president also stresses that his company has been boosting its manufacturing quality and technology, propelling it gradually toward a leadership position among Ford Asia's production affiliates.

According to Shen, a group of Ford Lio Ho design specialists participated in the entire development process for the new-generation Focus compact car, which is scheduled to be introduced in Europe in mid-2004. At the same time the designers worked on the four-door Asian version of the Focus, which is to be introduced first in Taiwan. With the local Ford affiliate playing a major role in the development of the Focus, local parts suppliers are expected to enjoy more opportunities to export their products.

Shen claims that Ford Lio Ho ranked very high last year among both Ford's Asian and global affiliates in terms of sales and profit performance. This fact further strengthens the local firm's tactical role in Ford's global business-development strategy.

New Model?

Shen declines to discuss what new models Ford Lio Ho is hoping to produce and export, or where the targeted export markets are. Other company officials surmise that the new-generation Fusion may be next--a do-it-all vehicle that combines the characteristics and functions of a hatchback sedan, sport utility vehicle (SUV), and minivan. It may also be the Escape medium-sized sport utility vehicle, which is already being locally produced for the domestic market.

Shen says that his company has the full capability to produce both left- and right-hand-drive models, meaning that it could export the proposed new models to right-hand-drive markets such as Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, and some Southeast Asian countries.

He goes on to say that the relatively small rise of the NT dollar against the greenback in recent months—much less than appreciation of the currencies of other industrially advanced countries in Asia and Europe—further strengthens Ford Lio Ho's export advantage.

The Taiwan company once shipped complete cars to Canada, and in recent years has been boosting its exports of such models as the Mondeo M2000 and Metrostar medium sedans, as well as Escape SUVs, to mainland China. It is, in fact, Taiwan's No. 1 exporter of complete cars at the present time.

Ford Lio Ho officials report that the company's mainland Chinese affiliate, Changan Ford Automobile Corp., will begin producing the Taiwan-redesigned Mondeo Metrostar next year, and with that development the Taiwan company will concentrate on exports of its Escape. Shipments of this model to the mainland in 2004 are expected to exceed 500 units.
©1995-2006 Copyright China Economic News Service All Rights Reserved.