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