BEIJING: Ford, the automaker, is handing advertising a central role in its bid to attract buyers in the increasingly competitive Chinese market.

The US multinational is set to begin manufacturing the latest iteration of its Kuga crossover vehicle - an offering Ford describes as falling in the "C-segment" - in the world's most populous nation.

"To be a volume player in China, you have to execute the C-segment flawlessly," Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president for global marketing, sales and service, told Bloomberg.

More broadly, the organisation intends to roll out 15 models in China over the period to 2015, alongside doubling its amount of dealers to 680.

Estimates from specialist consultancy JD Power & Associates suggest Ford currently holds a market share of 2.4% in China, where the firm's leading lines include the Fiesta and Focus models.

Having seen delivery numbers rise by 40%, to 582,467 units, in China during 2010 as a whole - beating the 32% uptick across the entire industry - Ford is upbeat about 2011.

While the automotive category's pace of expansion may moderate to roughly 10% this year, Ford again expects its own figures to outpace those of the sector.

Advertising will play a key part in this process, helping build brand awareness and loyalty at a time when many Chinese drivers are making their first purchase.

"We have to make sure our advertising spend is high enough as a percentage of our revenue," said Farley.

Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff