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Go deeper: Ford’s new localization efforts in China much more than products

From L3: Jason Luo, Chairman and CEO, Ford China, Bill Ford, Ying Jianren, Chairman of the board, Tech-New Group, Jim Hackett, Peter Fleet, Jin Zheyong, Chiarman of the board, Zotye Auto

If China’s auto industry is a poker game, then Ford is going all in.

It was a busy week in early December for the U.S. automaker, to say the least, as Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett traveled to China to announce a slew of plans and deals.

First came the new expansion strategy on December 5 (see Go broader and leaner: Ford’s “China 2025 Plan” to focus on SUV and electric push, connectivity, distribution and ownership experience). Then came three separate agreements with Zotye (see Zotye-Ford JV to go into production in September 2019), Alibaba (see Ford Alibaba tie-up looks to explore new ways to sell and own a vehicle) and Chang’an (see Chang’an and Ford deepen partnership, to localize production of Lincoln) two days later.

It was Hackett’s first trip to China since being appointed CEO just over six months ago, while Ford also talked about the future of the auto industry at the Fortune Global Forum on December 6 and met with Alibaba Founder and Chairman Jack Ma prior to signing the deal with the e-commerce giant.

The week-long trip that took Ford and Hackett to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Beijing was unpreceded for the U.S. automaker ever since it entered the Chinese market more than 20 years ago, and reflects Ford’s determination to become more local and efforts to rejuvenate the Blue Oval which has had a lackluster two years since the end of its “1515” strategy that brought 15 new vehicles to China between 2011 and 2015.

And it will be much more than the 50 new vehicles it is introducing in China by 2025, including a slew of locally-produced SUVs and electrified vehicles from Ford and Lincoln brands and the upcoming Zotye-Ford JV.

Ford’s total sales in China through to October were off by 5 percent while sales at its key JV Chang’an-Ford are 14 percent off. The only highlight has been the Lincoln luxury marque, which has seen sales jump by 85 percent through to October and delivered its 100,000th vehicle since officially entering the market three years ago.

Ford as a mass brand frankly has lacked behind rivals in terms of timely introduction of new or refreshed models that appeal to the latest Chinese consumer demand and has been impacted by the so-called “dumbell” effect where Chinese brands and luxury brands on the two extreme ends of the market are squeezing shares away from multinational mass brands that sit in the middle. Launching more locally-produced vehicles at a quicker pace is obviously one solution to address that problem, but the fact that Ford is streamlining its distribution services into one organization, launching its own quick service brand to diversify aftersales service and teaming up with Alibaba is a response to the rapidly changing consumer habits in China in buying, using, owning and servicing a vehicle. One only has to look at the success that SAIC Motor’s Roewe and MG brands have had since teaming up with Alibaba to understand how crucial Chinese tech giants like Tencent and Baidu are becoming for both Chinese and multinational automakers.

When in China, do what the Chinese do. Ford has realized that to be successful in China, it has to be more Chinese. The events in that week simply represent the start of that new journey.

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2 thoughts on “Go deeper: Ford’s new localization efforts in China much more than products

  1. 2018年1月29日,福特汽车公司宣布其中国公司董事会主席兼首席执行官罗冠宏(Jason Luo)正式向公司提出辞职,并立即生效。2017年8月,福特任命前Key Safety Systems(KSS)首席执行官罗冠宏担任中国业务的董事长兼首席执行官,此任命于2017年9月1日生效。罗冠宏截至目前上任未满5个月。罗冠宏毕业于北京理工大学机械工程专业,随后赴美深造。1997年加入KSS。十年后,成为该公司的CEO。2017年,他宣布以16亿美元价格收购高田气囊绝大部分财产。虽然收购尚未完成,但未知任何原因罗冠宏突然加入了福特中国。

  2. 1992年,应建仁在浙江省金华的县级市永康市创办了永康市长城机械五金厂,主要生产汽车冲压件和模具,这便是众泰汽车和铁牛集团的前身;四年后,永康市长城机械五金厂升级为注册资本1.018亿元的铁牛集团。其后,众泰品牌越来越响亮,但是铁牛集团却越来越隐蔽。
    2017年4月8日,金马股份(000980)正式发布公告称,该公司审议通过了《关于变更公司名称及证券简称的议案》,拟将公司名称由“黄山金马股份有限公司 Huangshan Jinma Co., Ltd.”变更为“安徽众泰汽车股份有限公司 Anhui Zotye Automobile Co., Ltd.”。变更后的公司证券简称为:众泰汽车。6月7日宣布正式完成更名。
    就在众泰汽车借壳金马股份上市之前,从2003年开始一手成功打造众泰汽车的原董事长吴建中(应建仁的姐夫)离开, 去了金坛基地另起炉灶。“全国企业信用信息公示系统”显示,2015年12月24日吴建中离开了众泰控股。

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