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Ford plugs in to China's electric auto market with joint venture

23 August 2017
Ford plugs in to China's electric auto market with joint venture

Zotye has sold more than 16,000 all-electric vehicles through July this year, representing 56 percent growth year-over-year.

Ford today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese automaker Anhui Zotye Automobile Co to explore the establishment of a joint venture that will build electric vehicles in China. It is the Chinese market leader in the small all-electric vehicle segment.

"Electric vehicles will be a big part of the future in China", said Peter Fleet, CEO of Ford China.

Automaker Ford will team up with local partner Anhui Zotye Automobile to create a new joint venture in China aimed specifically at producing electric cars. "It's a very different sort of vehicle to the sort of auto which would sell in the United States, but nevertheless it proves for Ford - which has been a laggard - 100% electric, non-hybrid cars are coming fast", he said to Professional Engineering.

Ford Asia Pacific boss Peter Fleet with Jin Zheyong Jin ZheYong chairman and president of Anhui Zotye Automobile
Ford Asia Pacific boss Peter Fleet with Jin Zheyong chairman and president of Anhui Zotye Automobile

"Multinationals have been playing a bit of wait and see in China", he said. "We are getting close to that for mass-market cars, as the Tesla 3 shows".

Ford sold 282,000 vehicles in China in the second quarter this year and its overall market share rose slightly to 4.6%. Zotye, Ford's new partner, is an electric vehicle specialist, with a total of 16,000 EV sales so far in 2017. But operating margins dipped 2.3%, even though the company's average transaction price rose by $3,100 on its popular F-Series pickups.

China is the world's largest market for electric cars, after the government ramped up incentives in a bid to help tackle the country's air pollution troubles. "Now, Ford is convinced they need to be in the game". By 2040 the analysts forecast U.S. EV sales will account for 58% of all new vehicle sales, and China EV sales will account for 51% of new cars sold in the Middle Kingdom.

The shift was driven by the demand for fully-electric models in China, said Goodall, as well as changing consumer attitudes as the technology develops.