Ford is targeting growth in China ahead of the 10% overall market expansion expected this year due largely to the launch of the redesigned Fiesta there.

The automaker’s local head of sales and marketing, Nigel Harris, told Reuters the carmaker became more confident after car joint venture passed its retail sales target by 17% in the first two months of the year.

“If the industry is 10%, we will grow more than the industry this year,” Harris said, assuming strong growth was maintained in March.

Sales by the Changan Ford JV fell 5.9% in 2008.

“The timing is perfect,” he added, referring to the launch of the Fiesta at a time when the government has unveiled incentives, including a halving of purchase taxes on smaller cars, which restored car sales back into double digits last month.

“Fiesta belongs to the segment which benefits mostly from the tax incentives. It has the potential in terms of volume,” Changjiang Securities analyst Yi Junfeng told Reuters.

Ford launches China Fiesta

China sales rise in February