Ford Motor Co. is betting on an all-new, cheaper midsize SUV to jolt its struggling business in China, the world's fastest-growing — and potentially most-lucrative — automotive market.

The Dearborn-based automaker announced Wednesday in China plans for the all-new Territory, a midsize SUV that targets buyers outside of China's biggest cities by offering a lower price than most Ford or Lincoln vehicles currently sold there.

The SUV will launch in early 2019, the automaker said. It comes at a pivotal time for Ford. The carmaker lags hometown competitor General Motors Co., as well as other international companies, in terms of sales growth and market penetration in China. Ford's sales there slid 25 percent through the first six months of the year; the company blamed an aging vehicle lineup.

The Territory, developed with Ford's joint-venture partner, Jiangling Motors Corp., will be the first all-new Ford vehicle to launch in China in years — and it kicks off plans to bring 50 new vehicles to China by 2025, Farley said.

"China is fundamental to Ford's future," Ford President of Global Markets Jim Farley said in an interview. "It's not only fast-growing, but it's incredibly diverse and an incredibly important market. It's fundamental to our profit plans, global brand (and) product strategy.

"I just cannot emphasize enough the sense of urgency we have," he said.

Plans for the all-new Territory come as Farley and Ford bring in new employees to boost sales in China in addition to other moves to reverse a sales slump that began at the end of 2017. The automaker will launch redesigned Focus and Escort models there later in 2018, along with new Lincoln SUVs. 

The new SUV will be cheaper than other vehicles it sells in China. Ford sells around 25 models there it either builds with its Chinese joint-venture partners or ships from the U.S. The lineup is old, and Ford vehicles, like most automakers foreign to China, are typically more expensive when compared to China's domestic automakers. The Territory's lower price is part of an effort from Ford to cover more of the Chinese market. 

The automaker needs to appeal to more than the top end of the market, Farley said. 

"Now is our chance to rejuvenate the entire lineup," he said. "We're going to cover the market more broadly."

That includes launching more sport utility vehicles in China and various price points, which the automaker hopes will give the Ford brand appeal outside of China's big cities.

The Territory will have a gasoline engine and hybrid options. Also available are new infotainment systems and Ford's driver-assist features that includes adaptive-cruise control,

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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