Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced a three-year partnership with India-based Mahindra Group, a leader in utility vehicles there.

The partnership builds Ford’s reach in India, which CEO Jim Hackett said was “front and center on the agenda” when he replaced Mark Fields in May.

The two companies will work together on mobility programs, connected vehicles, electrification and product development, the company said. The partnership could also bring better distribution in India for Ford, and better reach outside of the country for Mahindra.

“Ford is committed to India and this alliance can help us deliver the best vehicles and services to customers while profitably growing in the world’s fifth-largest vehicle market,” Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president and president of global markets, said in a statement.

“Our two companies have a long history of cooperation and mutual respect. The memorandum of understanding we have signed today with Mahindra will allow us to work together to take advantage of the changes coming in the auto industry.”

Ford currently manufactures and exports vehicles and engines from two facilities in India. That country is also Ford’s second-largest employee base in the world.

More than 14,000 people work for the Blue Oval in India.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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