Over the past few years, Ford has launched a number of China-only products in that country designed specifically for customers that live there, rather than simply importing other models. However, changes could be on the horizon in one of the most hotly contested automotive markets on earth, particularly after Ford China CEO Anning Chen recently retired, making way for Sam Wu to take over the top position. Now, change seems to be precisely what’s in store for that market as a whole, according to Ford CEO Jim Farley.
“Our strategy going forward in China will change,” the Ford CEO said while speaking during the automaker’s Q1 2023 earnings call. “We’re going to go to a much lower investment, leaner, more focused business in China, with higher returns. And I’ll give you an example. I don’t want to lay out the whole strategy here, but since you asked the question, I think our partnership with JMC is a good example. We’re going to double-down on our commercial business, including EVs in China. We also believe that JMC can be an export hub for affordable EVs and ICE commercial vehicles using the Ford distribution network for our Pro business around the world.”
This is certainly notable given the fact that many of Ford’s recent new vehicle launches in China – including the Ford Evos, Ford Mondeo, and Lincoln Zephyr – were all designed by Ford China specifically to cater to Chinese customers. Such an endeavor is undoubtedly more expensive than creating global models that can be sold in multiple markets, however.
The Blue Oval has done precisely that over the past few months, importing vehicles like the Ford Bronco and Ford F-150 Raptor into China while also announcing that it will build and sell the Ford Ranger locally in the same market. These moves – coupled with previous comments from Farley – seem to indicate that this will be the company’s future strategy in China, rather than tailoring products specifically for customers there.
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