Ford Launching Cheap, 'Basic' Midsize SUV to Tempt China

ford launching cheap 8216 basic midsize suv to tempt china

Ford hopes to nab the attention of Chinese customers by unveiling a new midsize sport utility vehicle specifically designed for the region, placing an emphasis on more space for less money — a concept which would likely be appreciated worldwide. However, the model isn’t entirely new. The automaker is actually reviving the Ford Territory, an Australian-market crossover based on the defunct Falcon.

It’s a departure from the trend of Western manufacturers focusing on China’s appetite for luxury vehicles. Still, Ford may have missed its opportunity there. Chinese consumers swarmed Buick like flies on a carcass; Ford wasn’t so fortunate. It performed abysmally in The People’s Republic this year, posting 400,443 sales for the first half of 2018. That represents a 25 percent slip compared to last year’s volume and the worst first half since 2001.

Colossal Chinese tariffs on American automobiles haven’t helped, and Ford has already said it won’t raise prices to counter them. It seems eager to plant roots in China, like every big automaker, and intends to launch a new version of Focus, Escort, and a swath of crossovers over the next year as part of a much bigger plan to get 50 fresh models into the market by 2025.

Ford doesn’t seem interested in competing with Buick, which remains the American brand du jour in China. Instead, it seems to be targeting other Chinese brands emphasizing value. “The Territory is a breakthrough for Ford in China in terms of our ability to successfully compete with Chinese automakers for millions of customers that we do not currently serve,” explained Peter Fleet, chairman and CEO of Ford China.

Ford anticipates the Chinese market growing to double the size of U.S. market in a few years, so it’s is chasing mainstream volume, hopeful that betting on the country’s fast-growing middle class will pay off. The company’s stripped-down Territory is estimated to cost around $22,000, a starting price you’d expect on a much smaller vehicle.

Jim Farley, Ford’s vice president and president of global markets, explained to the Detroit Free Press the importance of growing the business in Asia.

“This is Ford competing in lower price points than we have in the past. And this is a completely indigenous product. It is not derived from a Ford product elsewhere. It was developed by our local partners. This is not a One Ford product. This is a China-only product,” Farley said. “This is a new nameplate, a new product and it competes differently than in the past. It has a large interior size and a lower price. This will be one of several vehicles we’ll be launching in the next several months.”

Co-developed with Jiangling Motors Corp and available in three powertrain choices, including a plug-in and 48-volt mild hybrid version, the Territory is a vehicle we’re unlikely to see in North America in any incarnation. That’s a shame for the manufacturer, as it seems like something America’s Breadbasket would eat up, regardless of its country of origin.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

Join the conversation
3 of 16 comments
  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.