Ford part­ner­ing with Alibaba Group in China

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY IAN THI­BODEAU The Detroit News ithi­bodeau@de­troit­ Twit­ter: @Ian_Thi­bodeau

Ford Motor Co. on Thurs­day an­nounced an­other Chi­nese part­ner­ship to ex­pand its foot­print in the world’s largest auto mar­ket.

The Dear­born-based au­tomaker has a three-year agree­ment with Alibaba Group to find new ways to sell vehicles in China. Alibaba is of­ten re­ferred to as China’s Ama­zon. The part­ner­ship could bring about on­line re­tail op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ford in China.

The news comes as Ford CEO Jim Hack­ett and Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man Bill Ford Jr. wrap a week­long trip to the coun­try. It’s the lat­est part­ner­ship in a se­ries in re­cent months as Ford am­pli­fies its pres­ence in China.

In Novem­ber, the com­pany an­nounced a $756 mil­lion part­ner­ship with An­hui Zo­tye Au­to­mo­bile Co. to build elec­tric vehicles there. Ear­lier this week, Bill Ford and Hack­ett an­nounced plans to bring 50 new vehicles to mar­ket in China by 2025, and to build five new vehicles in that coun­try.

Ford is a com­pany that’s pegged China as a place it can win — and maybe win big.

“China is one of the world’s largest and most dy­namic dig­i­tal mar­kets, thriv­ing on in­no­va­tion with cus­tomers’ on­line and off­line ex­pe­ri­ences con­verg­ing rapidly,” Hack­ett said in a state­ment. “Col­lab­o­rat­ing with lead­ing tech­nol­ogy play­ers builds on our vi­sion for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimag­ine and rev­o­lu­tion­ize con­sumers’ mo­bil­ity ex­pe­ri­ences.”

The Alibaba part­ner­ship was formed so the com­pa­nies could jointly find new ways to sell vehicles, which could in­clude an on­line com­po­nent. The au­tomaker and re­tailer want to “re­de­fine con­sumer re­tail ex­pe­ri­ences and ex­plore so­lu­tions for sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity.”

The com­pa­nies will also work to­gether in the fields of mo­bil­ity, con­nec­tiv­ity, cloud com­put­ing, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. The com­pa­nies’ first task will be fig­ur­ing new ways for peo­ple to buy, main­tain and own vehicles us­ing the in­ter­net, com­put­ers or other tech­nol­ogy, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

And while Ford ben­e­fits from Alibaba’s re­tail and dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, Alibaba can pull from Ford’s ex­pe­ri­ence run­ning a global com­pany as the Chi­nese com­pany tries to ex­pand.

Ng Han Guan / AP

Ford Motor Co. is col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Chi­nese e-com­merce gi­ant to fur­ther ex­pand into the world’s largest auto mar­ket.

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