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Ford to sell Edge as SUV in China

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Ford to sell Edge as SUV in China

Automaker tries to broaden lineup there



Ford said late Wednesday that it plans to ship the Ford Edge from Canada to China as part of an effort to broaden its lineup in one of the world's fastest-growing automotive markets.

The 2011 Ford Edge, built in Oakville, Ontario, will make its regional debut at the 2010 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition on April 23. It was first shown at the Chicago Auto Show in February.

Aside from different fog lamps, headlights and license plate brackets, Ford said the Edge it will sell in China will be essentially the same as the version it will sell in North America.

Ford plans to begin building and shipping the Edge to China this year, but spokesman Mark Schirmer declined to say how many Ford hopes to sell or how much it will charge for the midsize crossover.

But even with shipping costs and a steep import duty of as much as 25%, Ford should still make a small profit from the vehicle, said Tim Dunne, director of global automotive coordination for J.D. Power and Associates.

Ford also ships its E-Series van from North America to China but builds the rest of China's six-vehicle lineup in China.

The addition of the Edge in China will give Ford a presence in an important, fast-growing segment, Dunne said. While the Edge is seen as a crossover in the U.S., the Edge will be marketed as an SUV in China.

Dunne said he expects SUV sales in China to double from 847,000 in 2009 to 1.54 million by 2015.

Ford also said the Edge will be the first car in China to feature Ford's MyFord Touch and Sync.

MyFord is the automaker's latest entertainment and climate control interface, and Sync is Ford's voice-controlled in-car communications system.

"Chinese consumers are always interested in the newest of the new," Dunne said. "They like cutting-edge products ... and Chinese consumers are very tech-savvy."

Ford also plans to show its new Focus compact car at the Beijing auto show. The all-new Focus, which made its international debut at the North American International Auto Show in January, is part of Ford's effort to sell more than 2 million vehicles annually that are built off of the same platform.

Last September, Ford announced plans to spend $490 million on a new plant in Chongqing, China, to build the Focus and other cars for the Chinese market as it tries to expand its market share.

In 2009, Ford and its joint-venture partners sold 440,619 cars and trucks in China, a 44% increase from 2008 as industry sales topped 12.9 million, up 50% from 2008.

But Ford continues to face an uphill battle in China, where more than 75 brands compete for attention. Last year, Ford's share of total industry sales remained at just 1.9%, or about the same as 2008, the company said in its annual statement.



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