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From left: Jason Luo, Chairman and CEO, Ford China; Jim Hackett, CEO, Ford Motor Company; Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company; Peter Fleet, Group Vice President and President, Ford Asia Pacific, speaking at an event in China.
From left: Jason Luo, Chairman and CEO, Ford China; Jim Hackett, CEO, Ford Motor Company; Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company; Peter Fleet, Group Vice President and President, Ford Asia Pacific, speaking at an event in China.
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Ford Motor Co. will intensify its development in China with a focus on SUVs, electric and connected vehicles.

The US automaker plans to introduce 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 Joint Venture (JV) will launch an all-new range of affordable all-electric vehicles, according to Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett, who shared their vision at an event in China in December.

"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 plans to grow its China revenue by 50% by 2025 versus 2017 and is focusing its business expansion on three areas: smarter, more connected vehicles; closer connections to Chinese customers, and a streamlined business structure.

"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."

By the end of 2019, 100% of new Ford and Lincoln-badged vehicles in China will be connected through either embedded modems or plug-in devices.

"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 is one of the founding members of the Board of Baidu's Project Apollo, which aims to accelerate the development, testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

To foster closer connections with Chinese customers, Ford plans to locally assemble five more models in China for Chinese customers starting in 2019, including a Lincoln premium SUV and the company's first global all-electric small SUV.

"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."

Ford last month opened the Nanjing Test Center, which furthers product development capability and innovation in China. The company has launched Quick Lane, its global service provider, in China. The first two outlets opened in Nanjing and Chongqing in December 2017, 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. 100 new outlets are expected to be opened in 2018.

The company is strengthening ties with its JV partners Changan and Jiangling in 2018, establishing one distribution services division responsible for the marketing, sales and services associated with all Ford vehicles sold in China.

"Now is the time to deepen the partnerships we have with Changan 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."

Lincoln, which has become the fastest-growing luxury brand in China, remains a stand-alone consumer-facing brand and maintains its separate dealer network.

In December 2017, Ford also signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Alibaba Group to explore opportunities in connectivity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobility services and digital marketing.

"China is one of the world's largest and most dynamic digital markets, thriving on innovation with customers' online and offline experiences converging rapidly. Collaborating with leading technology players builds on our vision for smart vehicles in a smart world 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.

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