US carmaker Ford Motor announced today (October 12th) it will invest 11.4 billion yuan (£1.2 billion) over the next five years to expand research and development in China. The company has rapidly expanded in Asia in recent years and has now become the fifth-biggest foreign automaker in China.
Chief executive Mark Fields also announced during a corporate event in Shanghai that the company will introduce the plug-in hybrid C-MAX Energi, along with the Mondeo conventional hybrid to the Chinese market in 2016.
"By 2020 we will offer customers in China a range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles," he said, quoted by Reuters.
Ford's research will also focus on how to add greater smartphone connectivity, autonomous driving and other smart car features to its Chinese products. "With that investment, the next generation of Ford vehicles for China will be designed around customers there," said Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields.
Global profit up, China slows down
In July, Ford posted a 44 per cent surge in second-quarter global profit, with a net income of $1.9 billion compared with $1.3 billion a year earlier. It said pretax profit will grow by as much as 51 per cent this year.
In Ford’s Asia-Pacific region, pretax earnings rose to $192 million from $159 million a year ago. However, the company's profits in China have cooled down this year, with sales up only 0.1 per cent for the year, due to a slowdown in the Chinese economy.
Bob Shanks, the company's chief financial officer, told Bloomberg in July that Ford has lowered its forecast for industrywide sales in China to be between 23 million and 24 million, down from a previous projection of 24.5 million to 26.5 million cars and trucks.
"China was a very important absolute contributor to the results we had," he said. "I would expect that to actually strengthen in the second half because of the product launches and the added capacity coming on stream."
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