Great Wall, Ford target growing Chinese demand for pickups
BEIJING -- Grey Liu bought his third vehicle four months ago -- a Foton pickup truck,
lured by its $7,000 price tag and its ability to transport his sports motorcycle to the grasslands of northern China where he likes to ride.
The Beijing-based businessman is among a growing number of drivers in China enthusiastic about pickups
-- either for leisure or just because they like them, expanding the market beyond traditional demand for farm, construction and maintenance work.
While calling his pickup "a big toy", the 35-year-old notes some of his friends also have one.
"There are more and more people like us," Liu said.
Pickup demand -- both work-related and the newer interest from mainstream consumers -- has climbed on the back of an easing in government restrictions and last year China became the world's second-biggest pickup truck market.
Signs this year that rules may be relaxed further are prompting industry executives and analysts to talk of a potential doubling or even greater jump in demand.
That in turn is spurring Great Wall Motor Co., China's largest pickup manufacturer, and Ford Motor Co., the maker of the most popular U.S. pickup series, to bolster product lines.