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Ford Alibaba tie-up looks to explore new ways to sell and own a vehicle

HANGZHOU – Ford Motor Co. and Alibaba Group signed a strategic cooperation agreement here on December 7 on exploring new ways to redefine how consumers purchase and own vehicles, as well as how to leverage digital channels to identify new retail opportunities.

The signing comes just two days after the U.S. automaker announced its “China 2025 Plan” expansion strategy in the country (see Go broader and leaner: Ford’s “China 2025 Plan” to focus on SUV and electric push, connectivity, distribution and ownership experience) during the week-long visit by Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett.

According to the three-year agreement, the two sides will jointly explore areas of cooperation that are re-shaping the auto industry in China and around the world. Ford will cooperate with Alibaba’s four business units in operation system, cloud computing, digital marketing and online retail respectively – namely AliOS, Alibaba Cloud, Alimama and Tmall – and jointly explore a variety of areas of cooperation including mobility services, connectivity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.

“Ford will collaborate with leading technology player Alibaba to reimagine and revolutionize consumers’ mobility experiences,” said Hackett.

In the initial phase, Ford and Alibaba will explore a pilot study on digital solutions for new retail opportunities at various stages of the automotive ownership cycle, from pre-sales and test drives to leasing options.

“Alibaba is excited to redefine the consumer journey and user experience for automobiles together with Ford Motors,” said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group. “Our data-driven technology and platform will expand the definition of car ownership beyond just having a mode of transportation and into a new medium for smart lifestyle.”

By leveraging both parties’ areas of expertise, both companies are investigating ways that mobility technology could redefine online retail marketing, distribution strategies, cloud connectivity and infotainment services.

Ford said the strategic cooperation would be a win-win for both partners. On the one hand, Alibaba will gain from Ford’s automotive leadership of running complex global operations, with more than 100 years legacy of developing, manufacturing and selling vehicles globally, and rich experience of providing trusted service through the established global dealer networks. On the other hand, Ford can also leverage the wide spectrum of Alibaba’s resources including new retail services, Internet of Things solutions, data technologies and cloud computing to transform vehicle ownership in the new retail era.

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