Ford, the U.S. automaker, said on Wednesday that it was separating its unit in China from its broader Asia Pacific operation to form a stand-alone unit that is an attempt to speed up profitable growth.
Ford has also named Anning Chen a veteran of the auto industry as CEO and president of its business in China. Chen, who previously was with Chery Jaguar Land Rover, will assume the new position starting November 1 and report directly to the global markets president Jim Farley.
Chen is expected to lead the turnaround plans of the company to boost sales across China. Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett said that success for Ford in China is critical as the company repositions its global business for success over the long term.
Hackett added that with the actions taken today, Ford is strengthening its commitment to the market in China.
This announcement comes at a time Ford is struggling to increase its sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market.
Sales for Ford in China fell 43% during September from the same month one year ago. The carmaker has been hit hard as well by the continuing trade war between China and the U.S.
Some auto analysts said that there is a slowdown across the board for auto sales in China because of the trade dispute, more cautious Chinese consumers and a crackdown locally on certain types of lending practices called peer-to-peer.
Ford said it was entering into a busy time for product renewal in China, which includes launches of high-volume of the Ford Focus, Ford Escort and Ford Territory vehicles. Those three are part the commitment of Ford China to launch 50 new vehicles prior to 2025.
In January, the former chief of Ford in China Jason Luo stepped down after five months at the position.
Competition has increased across China as more and more automakers are entering into partnerships with Chinese companies and producing some of the vehicles locally while importing others.