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Ford China February sales up 67%

After posting big sales gains in China in 2013, Ford has started 2014 with a strong performance and plans to accelerate operations in the country.

Ford's February sales in China, the world's largest auto market, jumped 67 percent. For the year, the automaker has boosted sales in China by 73 percent.

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The gains were paced by the Ford Focus, which is the best-selling vehicle in China.

Thanks to a strong start Ford says it now expects to sell over a million vehicles in China in 2014.

Ford vehicles are seen on the sales lot at a Ford AutoNation car dealership in North Miami, Florida.
Getty Images
Ford vehicles are seen on the sales lot at a Ford AutoNation car dealership in North Miami, Florida.

Ramping up China investments

With business in China growing quickly, Ford is expanding its presence in the country by investing $100 million in its research and development facility in Nanjing.

The move will include hiring about 200 employees a year through 2018 as Ford adds a test track and other capabilities to its Nanjing operations.

The expansion of research and development in China comes as Ford prepares to open two new plants in the country this year.

(Read more:Global auto sales hit record high of 82.8 million)

Both plants will be located in Chongqing, where Ford currently has a final assembly plant.

A second final assembly plant in Chongqing will open later this year producing approximately 300,000 vehicles annually.

Auto sales in China expected to top 21 million this year.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews.

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