Ford to sell vehicles directly to customers in China under new EV organization

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. announced Tuesday it will sell vehicles directly to customers in China under the umbrella of a new, dedicated battery-electric vehicle organization. 

The move, in the world's largest auto market and electric vehicle leader, marks the latest step forward in the Blue Oval's bid to ramp up production of EVs globally. Meanwhile, the company also began accepting pre-orders for the Mustang Mach-E — Ford's first fully battery-electric vehicle, which launched in North America at the start of the year — to customers in China.

Ford announced earlier this year that Mustang Mach-E, its first SUV built on an all-electric platform, will be manufactured in China by Changan Ford for local customers.

The organization dedicated to battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, will focus on research and development, manufacturing, sales and user experience for EVs in China, the company said in a news release. Mach-E will be the first vehicle introduced by the organization.

The Mach-E that will be available to customers in China later this year will be built in that country (the version that's available in North America is built in Mexico). The automaker said prices will range from RMB 265,000 to 379,900, which in U.S. currency translates to about $40,500 to $58,000. 

Meanwhile, Ford China said it plans to establish a direct sales network that will operate in 20 major cities across the country. The company said it will offer a "one-stop 'Everything Online' experience which includes service appointments, pickup and delivery of cars."

The company highlighted several vehicle charging options that will be available to customers, including more than 300,000 public charging piles,160,000 of which support fast charging, in more than 340 cities. 

The automaker also noted that Mach-E comes standard with the company's Co-Pilot360 advanced driver assist system, and with the option to upgrade to a package that enables hands-free driving under certain conditions. The vehicle will also be available in a GT performance edition.

Ford first announced in January that it would sell and build the Mach-E in China.

The Mach-E, which has been well-received by customers and critics alike in North America and garnered comparisons to EV leader Tesla Inc., is the first in a forthcoming portfolio of BEV vehicles from Ford. Next year, the automaker plans to launch all-electric versions of its popular F-150 truck and Transit van, all part of a strategy to transition to EVs by leveraging Ford's most popular and iconic nameplates.

Meanwhile, as Ford and other automakers attempt to steal some of Tesla's market share in the EV space, Bloomberg reported last week that growing demand from customers in China was a driving force behind Tesla's strong sales performance in the first quarter. Tesla, which has a plant in Shanghai, has been "encouraged" by the reception there to its Model Y, to which the Mach-E has been compared, according to a statement from the company.

Ford announced earlier this year that it is increasing its investments in EVs, to more than $22 billion through 2025. It also announced it would largely phase out gasoline-powered vehicles in Europe in the coming years.

Historically, Ford has been a relatively small player in China, but it has sought to boost its business there in recent years under its "Best of Ford, Best of China" strategy. With a refreshed lineup featuring the SUVs and luxury vehicles preferred by customers in the region, Ford has seen its results there improve over the last several quarters.

Ford sold 153,822 new vehicles in China in the first quarter, for a 73.3% year-over-year increase and the automaker's fourth consecutive quarter of growth in the market. The sales growth in part reflected the fact that China was largely shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic in the first quarter of 2020.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski