Ford’s China-Only Taurus

Ford’s China-Only Taurus
Ford’s China-Only Taurus

It’s all about China these days. Even the American auto-giant Ford Automotive has ditched its traditional premiers in the US to show off its newest version of the Ford Taurus in China, before anywhere else.  According to research firm IHS Automotive, China’s market for large sedans has overtaken the United States, with sales of around 4 million last year, topping the 3.6 million sold in the U.S. By 2020, IHS expects that gap to have widened to 5.3 million large sedans in China and 3.7 million in the U.S.

Ford unveiled the Taurus redesign, which it says is aimed specifically for the Chinese market and won’t be for sale in the U.S., at a media event on Saturday ahead of the Shanghai autoshow. In China, Ford will aim the new Taurus at business people and entrepreneurs who want a car with a spacious back seat and a more conservative design, says spokesman Craig von Essen. Ford will assemble the car in Hangzhou, China with local partner Chongqing Changan Automobile.

“Large sedans being sold in China today are luxuries and there is a gap there between luxury brands and popular brands. That’s where we’re aiming this car at,” Ford China Chairman and CEO John Lawler told Reuters on the sidelines of the Shanghai show.

For Ford and other large sedan makers, the future looks to be outside the United States. Large sedans account for about 3 percent of the total U.S. car and light truck market, says Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle, down from 12 percent in 2000. Taurus sales in the U.S. slid by more than a fifth last year, and are down nearly 28 percent through the first three months of this year, according to Autodata figures.

Ford is betting the Taurus will be a hit in the Chinese market selling the ‘Americana affordable luxury idea’ to the Chinese car buyer.  Volskwagen AG and other European companies are likely to continue their charge against US competitors, making the Taurus that bit less favorable against European engineering.