Ford links with Alibaba in China expansion

Alibaba and Ford form technology-based alliance

Collaborating with leading technology players builds on our vision for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionize consumers' mobility experiences, " said Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO.

According to the source, who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak with reporters, the deal is meant to position the Dearborn, Michigan, carmaker for an emerging Chinese marketplace where more cars could be sold online.

Alibaba spokeswoman Crystal Liu declined to comment, according to South China Morning Post (SCMP).

At the initial stage of the partnership, both sides will conduct a pilot study to explore potential New Retail opportunities at various stages of the automotive ownership cycle, from pre-sales to test drives to financial leasing options, according to a statement from Alibaba. Those cars could come directly from Ford or from its dealers but the details are still to be worked out, the source added. The vehicle would then be delivered to the ground floor automatically. This model bypasses the traditional dealership, but Ford believes dealers would agree to this direct selling model because they still get to service the cars, the source explained.

"When online sales and direct sales volume was small that is one thing". "Retail innovation is great, but is by its nature disruptive and can't keep everyone happy".

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Ford Motor Co. and leading Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba on Thursday announced a major strategic collaboration in online car-related services, as the USA auto giant seeks to revive its flagging sales in the world's largest vehicle market.

The company plans to offer more than 50 new Ford and Lincoln vehicles in China by 2025 including eight all-new SUVs and at least 15 new electrified vehicles from Ford and Lincoln. The direct sales model couldn't work in the USA due to a strong auto dealer network with a decent amount of political power.

Ford is also strengthening ties with its joint venture 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.

China is the world's largest auto market, with about 23 million vehicles sold in the first 10 months of the year.

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