(Yicai Global) Dec. 11 -- Just six months into the job, Li Hongpeng, Ford Motor's vice president of marketing and sales in China, has resigned after shipments from the company's joint venture halved over the first 11 months of the year.
Li stepped down yesterday for health and family reasons, Ford Motor China said in a statement. He had worked at the firm since May following an 11-year stint at Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service.
Just a month ago, Li told Yicai Global at the Guangzhou International Auto Show that the company was preparing to help dealers start turning a profit and rejuvenate the brand in China as sales slumped throughout the year. Ford's local product development has failed to keep up with changing market demand in recent years, and its reliance on older models has seen its dealer network collapse.
"Success in China is critical as we reposition our global business for long-term success," Ford President and Chief Executive Jim Hackett said in October when the company announced its China unit would henceforth operate as a standalone business under a new CEO tasked with putting an end to sliding sales.
But Ford is not the only carmaker feeling the pinch in China, the world's biggest auto market. The country's automobile industry has hit the doldrums. Passenger car sales were 4.3 percent lower at 20.5 million in the 11 months through November, according to data published yesterday by the China Passenger Car Association. That makes a full-year decline almost inevitable.
The two China joint ventures run by the world's leading car seller, FAW Volkswagen Automobile and SAIC Volkswagen Automotive, led November sales, with SAIC General Motors coming in third. China's Geely Automobile Holdings, which owns the Volvo brand, ranked fourth. Changan Ford, the Detroit-based car titan's local joint venture with China Changan Automobile Group, fell out of the top 10.
Changan Ford sold just 24,000 vehicles last month, a 70 percent decline from a year earlier, and it only shipped 360,000 cars through November, a more than 51 percent annual decline, according to a Changan Auto report published on Dec. 8.
In 2011, the joint venture flogged 519,000 vehicles for a 3 percent market share. Five years on, it sold a record 957,000 and hoped to sell a million cars in 2017, a goal it missed but aimed for again this year.
Editor: James Boynton