Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Ford's Deal With Alibaba Leaves OEM's Financial Arm Out of China

Representatives of Ford and Alibaba, including Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jnr and Ford CEO Jim Hackett, are expected to be in Hangzhou on Thursday to sign a letter of intent that outlines the scope of the new partnership.

In the event it wasn't clear that Ford is serious about increasing its sales in China, it's new partnership with Alibaba Group should clear up any confusion.

The two companies will initially conduct a pilot study to explore potential opportunites in New Retail - a reference to the integration of online and offline retailing - at various stages of vehicle ownership, from pre-sales to financial leasing options, Alibaba said in a statement on Thursday.

The tie-up came just days after Ford announced plans to launch 50 models of new vehicles in China by 2025, including at least 15 electrified cars, and pledged to have all new Ford and Lincoln-branded vehicles in China to be internet-connected by the end of 2019.

Under this new three-year agreement, the two companies will "explore areas of cooperation that are re-shaping the automotive industry in China and around the world".

Ford is expected to sign a deal with China's Alibaba Group that may allow the carmaker to test selling cars to Chinese consumers via Alibaba's online retail arm Tmall, formerly known as Taobao Mall. The companies will jointly explore opportunities in mobility services, connectivity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.

Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett said collaborating with leading technology players accords with their vision "for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionize consumers' mobility experiences".

Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba Group Holding and Ford Motor said they will work together to find ways to improve the retail experience for customers as the USA carmarker tries to boost sales in China. "The agreement aims to explore new ways to redefine how consumers purchase and own vehicles, as well as how to leverage digital channels to identify new retail opportunities", Alibaba said in its statement.

"Our data-driven technology and platform will expand the definition of auto ownership beyond just having a mode of transportation and into a new medium for a smart lifestyle", Zhang said.

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