DETROIT, Dec 6 — The Blue Oval has bold ambitions for the world’s largest car market including 50 all-new models plus a range of electrified cars — and all before 2025.
Yesterday, during a visit to the country, Ford’s CEO, Jim Hackett, detailed his company’s plans to become a bigger automotive force in China and how it intends to build closer relationships with the country’s car-buying public. “Ford’s aspiration is to become the world’s most trusted mobility company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world. We are very excited to see this vision come to life in China,” he said.
In the short term this will mean making all of its new cars connected. By 2019 all cars sold in China under the Ford or Lincoln brand will come with always-on internet as standard. But looking further into the future, Ford will need to shake up its model offering to align with China’s automotive tastes; tastes that, thanks to the enormity of the country’s car-buying market (28.03 million car sales in 2016 alone) are already starting to dictate the types and styles of vehicles that companies offer globally.
“China is not only the largest car market in the world, it’s also at the heart of electric vehicle and SUV growth and the mobility movement,” said company Executive Chairman, Bill Ford, who was accompanying Hackett on his visit.
Therefore, the company is set to launch another eight “all-new” SUVs for the China market as well as moving further into electrification.
In this respect, Ford has already announced a joint venture with Zotye that will see the two companies pool their resources in order to create a new range of affordable plug-in electric cars under a standalone brand name. However, Ford also plans to launch “at least’ 15 new electrified (ie, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric) Ford- and Lincoln-badged vehicles including the firm’s first ever fully electric small SUV, which will be sold globally.
“From luxury Lincolns, to Ford cars and SUVs, to an all-new electric vehicle brand, we will meet the growing desire and need in China for great new energy vehicles,” said Jason Luo, chairman and CEO, Ford China.
However, as well as developing more vehicles for the Chinese market, Ford is also increasing its manufacturing footprint in the country. By 2019 it will be building five new Ford and Lincoln models including a premium Lincoln SUV and the aforementioned plug-in electric car in China.
“Some of our most advanced manufacturing and innovation facilities are here in China,” said Peter Fleet, group vice president and president, Ford Asia Pacific. “Producing more vehicles for China locally allows us to improve the benefits for our customers, our partners and our bottom line.”
Though cost effective, Ford hasn’t always got it just right when taking a vehicle manufactured and sold outside of Europe or North America and selling it to drivers in mature markets.
The best current example being the Ford Eco Sport, a sub-compact crossover built in Brazil and India for local markets that fell short of expectations when initially launched in Europe in 2014. It’s been through two serious overhauls since its debut to ensure it meets expectations.
However, when Ford gets its “One Ford” philosophy right — ie, single models developed for its global market — it results in cars as good as the Focus and the Fusion (sold in Europe as the Mondeo). — AFP-Relaxnews