Ford Localizes Reboot In China

Ford Motor Co
Ford logos are seen at an assembly line on a Ford car factory (Photo: Reuters)

Ford's China 2.0 plan gathered deep local input as it expands its China-dedicated centers for design, engineering, and advanced innovation. The company desperately needs a reboot after its sales tumbled by 37 percent in China last year.

Ford's sales sagged in China's market. To remedy its failure, Ford made two designs for its Ford Escape. One design is for the United States customers while its old One Ford cookie-cutter approach was marketed in China.

According to Tim Slatter, Ford's executive director for product development in China, the model used to be they just brought models from Europe or North America. He said that they're not going to bring the global design to China. Instead, they are going to really think about what a China customer wants.

United States-based carmakers, including Ford and General Motors, struggled in China because the demand is down due to the slowing global economy and trade tensions. The first annual decline in sales of passenger vehicles in nearly three decades took place in 2018 as sales retreated 4.1 percent.

The deliveries of General Motors in China declined 9.9 percent to 3.64 million vehicles. Ford's sales are down 37 percent to 752,243. American cars struggled in China's market while its Japanese and German rivals gained market share.

The American cars decided to integrate local needs in their Chinese operations and products. General Motors resurrected its Chevrolet Trailblazer and Chevrolet Tracker nameplates during the Shanghai show. General Motors plans to market cars for Chinese consumers.

Aside from the names of the cars, they were built to be unique for the Chinese market with less resemblance to its predecessors sold in the United States. General Motors halted the sales for the Trailblazer and Tracker in the 2000s. Neither of the vehicles is planned for distribution in the United States since they are designed with China in Mind.

Mr. Slatter said that they have for a long time been very proud about global design, making sure there is a very recognizable design language for Ford but, the reality is, times have changed.

Ford plans to launch more than 30 Ford and Lincoln vehicles that are tailored for Chinese consumers as part of its reboot in China in the next three years. The company said that 10 of the vehicles are electric.

The company caters the growing technology needs in China. Ford teamed up with Baidu, known as the Google of China, in developing an in-vehicle infotainment system called Sync+.

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