Ford Eyeing Blue Oval Trucks Built in China

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford eyeing blue oval trucks built in china

China’s new vehicle market may not be as hot as it once was, but it’s still big. Very big. And pickup trucks, hungrily gobbled up by fleet operators, are a less volatile segment to do business in.

That’s why Ford’s mulling, for the first time, the idea of building Ford-branded trucks inside the country, rather than just importing them. However, before the automaker signs off on such an effort, China will have to do its part.

As reported by Reuters, Ford’s appearance this week at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) brought with it the possibility of local production, but only if Chinese cities become more receptive to allowing pickups in their city centers.

Several major cities in the vastly polluted country ban the use of such vehicles in their urban cores, giving U.S. automakers cold feet on the issue. The situation is evolving, though. Some cities have relaxed their once-rigid laws, with others poised to follow. That, plus the growing appetite for pickups among the Chinese citizenry, has American OEMS salivating over the possibility of boosted market share and boffo overseas profits.

Hoping to capture more buyers, Ford decided to overhaul its presence in the country via the formation of a standalone business unit (Ford China) in October 2018.

“If more areas relax restrictions on pickup trucks, we will plan to locally manufacture Ford-branded pickup trucks in China to meet the demands of Chinese consumers with considerations of the market situation,” Joseph Liu, Ford’s China vice president for product innovation, told Reuters.

Nothing was said about which pickups would enter production, or how those models would be configured. Chinese buyers aren’t very interested in towing, for example, and spaces are tighter in the country’s cities. All Liu would say is that home-built trucks would differ from models it imports from the U.S.

Currently, Ford supplies tech to its Chinese partner JMC, which builds a line of Yuhu-badged pickups.

Despite a 37.7-percent drop in sales in the third quarter of 2019, Ford claims its pickups are growing in popularity. Volume is still low, but combined sales of the Ranger and F-150 Raptor rose 29 percent in Q3 compared to the same period in 2018. Year to date, Ford-badged truck sales are up 60 percent.

[Image: Ford]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Nov 08, 2019

    meant 17.2 million vehicles sold in the US for 2018. A sizable number but 10 million less than China.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Nov 08, 2019

    We will see, but many of the current cars we have in the US market were introduced in China. Trucks are a different story but that could change as well. I am not saying this is a good thing but this has been happening for the last few years. You are assuming that the Chinese want the same size vehicles as Europeans which is incorrect. As TMA1 has stated the Chinese are building the infrastructure and the size of the vehicles Chinese prefer has little to do with the size of the road, the Chinese have built the bigger roads and the new infrastructure. The US is no longer the No 1 vehicle market in the World. China alone has over 300 million people in the middle class that is a huge market.

  • SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
  • SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
  • SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
  • Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.
  • Analoggrotto I refuse to comment until Tassos comments.