Shortly after announcing their electrification strategy for Europe, Ford has revealed its plans for China. Within the next three years, 30 models of the Ford and Lincoln brands are expected to enter the world’s largest car market but only ten of them are electric cars and plug-in hybrids.
The Ford Territory BEV, a fully battery-electric compact SUV, will be their first new electric car in 2019. With their new strategy, Ford is responding to declining sales in the world’s largest automobile market, which have also affected other brands such as GM, VW and Jaguar Land Rover, especially since the trade dispute between the USA and China. Most recently, Ford saw a car sales decline in China for the first time in 20 years.
The electric offensive will start with the new Escape, which was recently unveiled in Detroit. According to observers, however, electrified vehicles are more decisive for Ford’s market success in the future. While the growth of the entire car market in China has slowed down, sales of electric cars continue to rise sharply – mainly due to the government’s subsidy policy. “Ford is deeply committed to China, and with our new China leadership team and vision, we’re investing in the future,” says Ford CEO Jim Hackett according to CNN. For example, the Escape will also be available as a plug-in hybrid.
In addition, Ford plans to further invest in the Chinese economy. The domestic partners Changan Automobile and Jiangling Motors, for example, will be better integrated into the development of vehicles for the Chinese market. Changan Ford will design and develop the next-generation Ford Escort, and Jiangling will play a key role in the Ford Territory BEV. The U.S. manufacturer’s research and development facilities are to be expanded to include a China Innovation Center and a China Design Center, and more local talent will be integrated into the company.
The importance of business in China is also demonstrated by the launch of new technologies: The company presented Sync+, its new infotainment system based on the artificial intelligence technology of the Chinese tech giant Baidu. It was developed especially for Chinese drivers, and from this year most Ford and Lincoln vehicles built in China will be equipped with Sync+.
In addition, all new products and technologies from 2021 onwards will be complemented by C-V2X technology, which is becoming increasingly important, especially in connection with the ultra-fast 5G mobile communications standard and car automation. The technology, which networks vehicles with the infrastructure, is intended to improve their perception in their environment and serve traffic safety and efficiency.
“By injecting even more Chinese DNA and know-how into the business, and combining it with Ford’s global technology and resources, we will be able to respond faster to market changes and develop more efficient market strategies,” said Ford’s China President Anning Chen, who was appointed to the CEO position in China in late 2018.