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Ford eyes doubling market share in China auto market

The Ford logo is pictured on the rooftop of Austria's Ford head branch in Vienna March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
The Ford logo is pictured on the rooftop of Austria's Ford head branch in Vienna March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

By Bernie Woodall

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co Asia chief Dave Schoch confirmed the company can double its share to 6 percent of the Chinese passenger vehicle market over the next three years as it rolls out a spate of new products.

Schoch on Monday stood by the forecast he first made last year.

"Yeah, I think we can probably get there," Schoch said to reporters ahead of the upcoming Shanghai auto show.

Ford's share of the China auto market, the largest in the world, was 3 percent in 2012.

Ford, which got a later start in China than industry leaders Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co , achieved a 3.6 percent market share in the first quarter, up from 2.5 percent the previous year, Schoch said.

Ford's sales will rise in 2013, which Schoch called a "turbocharged year" because of new model offerings including the Kuga sports utility vehicle, the EcoSport compact SUV, the Explorer large SUV, and the Mondeo mid-size sedan. All of those models will be available to Chinese consumers by mid-year.

In 2012, Volkswagen led automakers with a 19.5 percent market share followed by GM at 10 percent, according to LMC Automotive.

He also said Ford is planning for annual economic growth in China of 7.5 percent over the next five years.

Earlier on Monday, Beijing announced that China's growth rate slowed to 7.7 percent in the first quarter, from 7.9 percent in the final quarter of 2012. The growth rate was less than the 8 percent expected by economists polled by Reuters.

Schoch said he expects Ford's sales to continue to rise beyond this year, also because of the company's rollout of new or significantly refreshed models.

Ford has said it will introduce 15 new models by 2015. The first of those was a new Focus compact car introduced last May.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Shanghai; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Chris Reese)

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