The Q1 sales figures are in from one of the world's biggest markets.
The Chinese automotive market has an undeniable impact on the rest of the industry. Tesla made huge moves in the Chinese market last year, doubling its sales there and digging into the market share that has traditionally been dominated by the Germans. And bold, controversially-styled vehicles like the current BMW 7 Series in part owe their designs to the preferences of Chinese customers. These are just some of the reasons why what happens in China matters, making the latest sales figures from Ford and General Motors in that country interesting reading. Unlike in the US, GM comfortably dominates Ford in China.
Both automakers boasted excellent year-on-year sales growth in the first quarter of 2021. Ford sold 153,822 vehicles in China in Q1, an increase of 73.3 percent relative to the same period in 2020. GM's growth was a similar 69% but it sold way more vehicles - over 780,000. GM does, of course, have the benefit of numerous joint-venture partners, selling vehicles under brands like Buick and Chevrolet, not to mention lower-cost companies like Baojun, boosting GM's overall numbers.
In total, more than 224,000 Buick models found homes in the country. The Buick LaCrosse sedan, no longer sold in the US, sold 13,000 units. Cadillac saw a Q1 sales record with more than 57,000 sales, a total that includes SUVs like the XT4 and XT5.
Ford may have sold far fewer vehicles in China than GM, but at least it is heading in the right direction. Over 34,000 Ford SUVs were sold in Q1, a year-on-year leap of over 100%. The Ford Escape alone moved close to 8,400 units in the first three months of 2021. Lincoln luxury vehicles tallied a 217% increase relative to last year, bolstered by models like the Aviator and Corsair. Combined, these two Lincoln SUVs made up a dominant three-quarters of all Lincoln sales in Q1. This is now the fourth consecutive quarter in which Ford has seen sales growth in China.