Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company, shares his views on the fast-changing automotive industry.
SHANGHAI – Ford Motor Co. is going all in in the Chinese market with an ambitious expansion strategy focused on SUVs, electric and connected vehicles, a streamlined business structure and closer connections with its Chinese customers.
The “China 2025 Plan” was announced here on December 5, 2017 by Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett during their visit to China in that week to meet with employees, customers, dealers and government officials. It marked Hackett’s first visit to China since being appointed CEO earlier in 2017.
“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 Ford. “The progress we have achieved in China is just the start. We now have a chance to expand our presence in China and deliver even more for customers, our partners and society.”
“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,” said Hackett.
To enable future growth in China, Ford will contain structural cost in the region throughout 2018, aiming to generate greater efficiencies, become more operationally fit and deliver additional value to shareholders. It plans to grow its China revenue by 50 percent by 2025 versus 2017 through measures outlined in the new Plan.
Product offensive: more than 50 new vehicles by 2025, many will be locally produced
Ford will be introducing more than 50 new vehicles in China by 2025, including eight all-new SUVs and at least 15 electrified vehicles from Ford and Lincoln. In addition, the new Zotye-Ford JV will launch an all-new range of affordable all-electric vehicles under a new brand, pending regulatory approvals.
“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. “Each of them will be safe, efficient, fun to drive and backed by an ecosystem that makes charging, sharing and servicing easy.”
In 2019, the company starts producing five additional Ford and Lincoln models in China for Chinese customers, including a new Lincoln premium SUV, and the company’s first global fully electric small SUV.
Producing vehicles locally speeds time to market, while providing greater opportunities to fully leverage the local supply base, according to Ford. It also allows the company to further tailor vehicles to more closely meet the needs of Chinese customers.
“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.”
More connected and autonomous: expanded partnerships and R&D footprint
By the end of 2019, 100 percent of new Ford and Lincoln-badged vehicles in China will be connected through either embedded modems or plug-in devices. Company leaders also are working on broader infrastructure opportunities to improve future mobility experiences.
Ford is one of the founding members of the Board of Baidu’s Project Apollo, building on the agreement signed earlier in 2017. The Apollo Open Platform accelerates the development, testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Ford’s participation supports the company’s robotics and artificial intelligence research efforts and provides an opportunity to contribute to a platform that will be key to developing autonomous vehicles in China.
“We are responding to the rapid pace of change by delivering increased connectivity and working to improve and simplify mobility for everyone,” Hackett said. “This builds on our commitment to deliver smart vehicles for a smart world, helping people around the world move more safely, confidently and freely.”
Ford in November 2017 opened the Nanjing Test Center, which furthers product development capability and innovation in China. The test center – which includes close to 80 different types of real road surface conditions, a three-kilometer test track and a sophisticated emissions testing facility, will allow Ford to speed development of new products, services and technologies to meet the unique driving requirements of Chinese customers.
Quick Lane service brand to be launched in China
The company also is committed to improving the ownership experience for customers with the launch of Quick Lane, its global fast, high-quality service provider.
The first two outlets opened in Nanjing and Chongqing last month, offering routine vehicle maintenance such as oil and filter changes, light repair services including brake repair and tire replacements on all vehicle makes and models. Ford plans to open 100 new outlets this year.
Single distribution services division to enhance customer experience and improve brand consistency
Ford is strengthening ties with its joint venture partners Chang’an and Jiangling in 2018, establishing one distribution services division responsible for the marketing, sales and services associated with all Ford vehicles sold in China. The new distribution services division will seek to offer a simplified, improved and consistent customer experience for all Ford customers in China.
Lincoln, which has become the fastest-growing luxury brand in China, remains a stand-alone consumer-facing brand and maintains its separate dealer network to offer the brand’s unique “Lincoln Way” one-size-fits-one customer experience.
“Now is the time to deepen the partnerships we have with Chang’an and Jiangling Group and present one Ford brand in China,” Fleet said. “The new distribution services division will enable us to offer an enhanced experience for our customers and more closely connect with our dealers and the community.
All of the actions outlined today reflect an unprecedented commitment to focus on the needs of consumers in China through a more fit and streamlined Ford. They are proof of our dedication to grow our business in China.”