Ford/Zotye Agreement

Practically every automaker seeking to expand its global footprint is courting China right now. Ford Motor Company has already signed an agreement with Anhui Zotye Automobile to set up a $754 million joint venture focused on electric cars in the hopes it can get a head start on the country’s fast-approaching EV mandate.

With so much opportunity for growth, major manufacturers see Asia as a ripening market as North America withers on the vine. With that in mind, Ford has announced plans to launch 50 new vehicles in China by 2025. 

“Between now and 2025, we will launch 50 new vehicles in China, and of those 50 new vehicles, 15 of them will be all-new electrified vehicles,� said Peter Fleet, Ford’s president of Asia Pacific, in Shanghai on Tuesday.

According to Reuters, Fleet expressed the need for a strong push into China’s utility segment as well. That means Asia is likely to see Ford fielding an array of small vehicles for both consumer and commercial applications. But most of them will have to come with an electrified variant if Ford plans on adhering to the country’s strengthening electric vehicle mandates.

China’s original plan was to ensure EVs comprise at least a fifth of all domestic auto sales by 2025, but it has softened slightly after global manufacturers said that simply wasn’t possible. Companies producing more than 30,000 cars annually will still have to earn a satisfactory “new-energy vehicle score” though.

The country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has indicated that at least 10 percent of an automaker’s lineup should be made of zero- and low-emission vehicles by 2019. That number rises to 12 percent the following year and continues its upward trajectory from there. Any group that fails to adhere to this guideline will be forced to purchase credits from China or face financial penalties.

While Europe incessantly promotes the abolishment of internal combustion engines, it’s China that’s most strongly influencing the industry. It also has the most aggressive timeline. “We’ve never seen change like we do today,â€� said Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford. “Everything is being disrupted.â€�

“It’s clearly the case that China will lead the world in EV development, and so we at Ford are investing enormous amounts of money both here in China and globally to bring electrification into fruition.�

[Image: Ford Motor Company]