The Mustang is going places, literally

Starting with China. 

For the first time in the iconic Ford Mustang’s 50 years of existence, it will be leaving the shores of North America and heading to other markets. With the first shipload of a hundred Mustang’s leaving Portland and heading to China last month, history was made, and this is just the beginning. The famous pony car will be available in about 120 foreign markets as part of Ford’s new export strategy.

“Three engines, one soul.”

Selling cars in international markets can be complicated, which entails not just re-engineering the car structure to accommodate driving on the ‘right’ side, and by that we mean moving the steering wheel to the right for left-hand traffic markets like Britain, Australia and South Africa. There is the more complicated issue of heavy taxation on imported cars imposed by many countries, and the tax usually increases with the engine’s displacement capacity.

In China, the first country where Mustang has made its foreign debut, the prices of vehicles with engines exceeding four litres can double after tax. The Mustang GT variant has a 435hp, 5.0-litre V8 engine and a starting price of US$32,300 back in the US, but once it enters China, the price tag multiplies to US$130,000, placing it firmly out of reach of many keen buyers.

So, Ford developed a smaller V4 engine option for markets with tariffs such as these. While petrol heads might turn up their noses at the discarding of half the cylinders, the new 2.3-litre Ecoboost I4 option for the sixth-generation Mustang can deliver up to 310hp and 320 lb.-foot of torque, which is enough to impress the most avid of performance car enthusiasts, and is more powerful than the standard 3.7-litre V6 variant which delivers only 300hp. Still, the Ecoboost option will be relatively pricey in China, selling for about RMB399,800 (US$65,000) there when it only starts at US$25,300 in the US. Nonetheless, Ford says that Chinese buyers are eagerly anticipating the Mustang, with early demand exceeding the automaker’s expectations.

Ford’s China sales broke records in the first month of this year, with a 19% year-on-year increase in January 2015, bringing the total to 112,599 vehicles sold. From that number, 3,015 units were imported. The increase is mostly attributed to Ford’s passenger car JV with Changan Automotobiles, which sales went up by 19% due to record sales of the new Escort, Mondeo and Focus models. The Mustang’s foreign foray also helped increase Ford’s sales of imported cars in China by 18%, which also include the Ford Edge, Focus ST, Explorer, and Fiesta ST models.

Meanwhile, Ford’s American counterpart and competitor, General Motors, saw a 2.4% decline in January sales.

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