Ford CEO Mark Fields Seems Stoked to Send More Product to China, Especially Trucks

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Ford’s Mark Fields had plenty of positive things to say about last week’s meeting between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. After spending months of his campaign accusing China of stealing American jobs, Trump left the conference optimistic at the prospect of improving the relationship between the two countries.

That’s welcome news for Ford, which wants to dramatically expand its presence in Asia over the coming years. The automaker has already decided to launch Lincoln models in the Asian market, hoping to piggyback off Buick and Cadillac’s success in China. On Thursday Fields also outlined a company decision to have 70 percent of all Ford nameplates sold in China by 2025 be part or fully electric — helping the company meet stricter emission standards and maintain volume in the East.

Of course, those plans are all nearly worthless if China decides to play hardball with Western automakers. “There’s huge, enormous mutual ties between the two countries from a trade standpoint,” Fields said during an event to explain Ford’s strategy to boost pickup sales in China. “We have to tread very carefully on that because the economic relationship is the basis of the overall relationship.”

China’s current policies require foreign automakers to establish joint ventures in order to manufacture vehicles within the country and also impose tariffs on imported cars. Those tariffs, in conjunction with dealer markups, have placed some of Ford’s vehicles at ridiculously high price points. A recent press release showed that imported Raptors cost around $19,000 more in China than they do on the domestic market. That’s not going to cut it for a company that is dead set on making pickups popular in Asia. However, the country has only just begun allowing light trucks inside the city limits of a small number of urban areas.

Field’s says Ford would rather not limit itself to 50 percent ownership of its Chinese business and needs those pickup restrictions lessened so it can effectively deliver on its plan to introduce the rest of the F-Series lineup — and eventually the Ranger in 2018. He’s hoping the meeting between Trump and Xi will be a step in the right direction.

“When you have two leaders meet face to face, they become people to each other,” Fields said in an interview with Bloomberg in Shanghai. “That’s a very firm foundation to then go off and make concrete advances to strengthen the ties between the two countries. I feel that’s very possible.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Apr 09, 2017

    It would be great to see the US export fullsize pickups to China. Ah ....... but the chicken tax??? Will the US accept Chinese midsizers. In Australia we have the Foton Tunland. From the reviews I've read they are not that bad. I saw an add the other day for $29 990AUD ($22 500USD) for blinged, leather, crew cab 4x4s. These have Dana axles, Getrag gearboxes, Borg Warner tx cases, Bosch electronics and a Cummins diesel. There will need to be some give and take on both sides, especially if Mark Fields wants fair access to the Chinese market. This doesn't take into account the Chinese Ranger, which is similarly priced with the Tunland. I foresee the UAW causing a problem or two. I say fnck the UAW. If they want input then maybe the can buy FCA or start their own auto manufacturing business. But it would fail.

    • See 14 previous
    • Guitar man Guitar man on Apr 11, 2017

      @Drzhivago138 >>"A recent press release showed that imported Raptors cost around $19,000 more in China than they do on the domestic market." Dream on. The F series is too wide and doesn't comply with regulations in China or any other asian country. That's why the Hilux and Ranger are so narrow. >>"That’s not going to cut it for a company that is dead set on making pickups popular in Asia"

  • OldManPants OldManPants on Apr 09, 2017

    "Field’s (sic) says Ford would rather not limit itself to 50 percent ownership of its Chinese business.." It stay half Chinee-ese if you don't please. Doesn't appear Ford has much leverage when their priciple money maker is big, dumb, pushrod BOFs that would be the easiest class of vehicle for Chinese to copy should their populace ever have the means and desire to demand them in significant quantities. Hence the electrification pipedream, but the Chinese and other more pliant JV partners can do that too.

    • See 28 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Apr 10, 2017

      @OldManPants Looks like some people can't take a joke.... but then again, we be talkin' V8's and real honest to goodness frames. That is like slagging American pickups, mom and apple pie..... even though mom and dad might be cousins ;)

  • Scott So they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars and they are promising us a “Cheaper EV”? I wonder how that will look and feel? They killed the Fiesta because they claimed that they couldn’t make a profit on them and when I bought the first one in late 2010 they couldn’t deliver the accessories I wanted for it! Then I bought a 2016 Fiesta ST and again couldn’t get the accessories for it I wanted. They claimed that the components were going to be available, eventually. So they lost on that one as well! I don’t care about what they say anymore. I’ve moved on to another brand.
  • Michael S6 CX 70 or 90 will not be on my buying list. Drove a rental base CX 90 and it was noisy and the engine noise was not pleasant. Ride was rough for a family SUV. Mazda has to understand that what is good for Miata isn't what we expect in semi luxury SUV. My wife's 2012 Buick Enclave has much better Ride and noise level albeit at worse gas millage. Had difficulty pairing my phone with Apple CarPlay
  • Michael S6 What is the metric conversion between one million barrels and the number of votes he expects to buy.
  • NJRide This could give Infiniti dealers an extra product maybe make it a sub brand
  • Lou_BC Mr. Posky outraged over an old guy passing er releasing some gas. How are those sedan sales going?
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