Ford China Sales Off to Record Start

Ford’s (NYSE:F) China sales surged 53% in January, as the Big Three automaker continues to see stronger demand in the world’s biggest auto market.

Ford said Wednesday it sold a record 94,466 wholesale vehicles last month, compared to 61,567 in January 2013. Passenger cars from the company’s Changan Ford Automobile joint venture led the way with 62% growth. Jiangling Motors Corporation commercial vehicles were up 28%.

Sales of the Ford Focus hit 36,385 vehicles, an 8% increase over the year-ago month. The Ford Mondeo, a local version of the Fusion mid-size sedan, recorded sales growth of 51%.

Ford beat Japanese rivals Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Honda (NYSE:HMC) last year with a total of 935,813 vehicles sold, up 49% over 2012. The No. 2 U.S. car maker has benefited from a refreshed lineup in China, while Japanese manufacturers suffered from boycotts early in 2013.

Volkswagen became the top foreign car maker in China with sales of 3.27 million vehicles in 2013. General Motors (NYSE:GM) sold 3.16 million units, good for second place.

Earlier this week, GM also reported record China sales for January. The company said its sales jumped 12% to 348,061 vehicles amid an uptick in Buick demand.