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Made in Detroit: Ford Shipping F-150 Raptors to China

Automaker selling U.S.-built vehicles in China for first time.

by on Feb.03, 2017

Pickups are now the rage in China, and Ford is taking advantage of that demand by shipping Detroit-made F-150 Raptors to the country.

Amid the growing controversy over the United States trade agreements with other countries around the world, Ford Motor Co. has begun shipping pickups built the company’s storied Rouge manufacturing complex just outside Detroit to China.

However, these aren’t just any trucks.

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Ford is shipping its all-new 2017 F-150 Raptor – a high-performance off-road pickup truck – to customers in China, who have said they wanted the vehicle. It marks the first time any U.S.-built F-Series truck, Ford’s best-selling vehicle and the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the past 40 years, has been officially exported to China in the modern era.

The Raptor headed for China was built in the Dearborn assembly plant inside the Rouge complex, which remains the center of Ford’s manufacturing operations in the North America.

“Raptor’s unique looks and capability have generated amazing buzz at every auto show we’ve brought it to around China,” said David Schoch, Ford group vice president and president, Ford Asia Pacific.

(Pickups are suddenly hot in China. Click Herefor the story.)

Ford is hoping to strike while the iron is hot and has Raptors lined up to get on ships to ship them to China.

“F-150 Raptor is another example of our commitment to offer a wide range of vehicles for customers in China – everything from SUVs to high-performance cars and trucks,” he said.

F-150 Raptor is a class of one among off-road performance vehicles, with purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension – all of which enable it to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes or crawl along rocky terrain, from Baja to the Gobi Desert.

“Ford is one of America’s top exporters, and F-150 Raptor’s appeal and unmatched off-road performance has earned the truck a loyal following around the globe,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president, The Americas. “Export to China enables us to bring a new group of enthusiasts into the Ford family.”

Exported as a four-door SuperCrew model, the second-generation F-150 Raptor comes with the latest advanced technologies, including a military-grade, high-strength, aluminum-alloy cab, while its muscular body is uniquely composite.

The all-new Raptor also features an exclusive high-output version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, plus a Ford-built 10-speed automatic transmission and advanced six-mode Terrain Management System.

Other one-of-a-kind F-150 Raptor features include a Ford Performance-engineered high-strength steel frame with custom Fox Racing shocks with higher ground clearance, BFGoodrich off-road tires and full dual-performance exhaust system.

F-150 Raptor is one of more than 12 new Ford Performance vehicles coming by 2020. It joins Ford GT, Focus RS, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R in a growing Ford Performance line-up.

(Click Here to see more about Ford’s record sales in China in 2016.)

While banned in many large cities due to air quality issues, trucks are high-demand vehicles. In fact, import trucks like the Ford F-150, as well as little domestic models, are one of the hottest segments of the Chinese auto industry right now, with IHS Automotive expecting a 14% increase in sales for all of 2016, about double the pace of the overall market’s growth.

Pickups have traditionally been seen as nothing more than work trucks and, in many parts of China, they’re not even allowed on public roads during the daytime, while many major cities ban them entirely.

But a few cities have reversed course of late, in part to help stimulate a cooling domestic economy. Four provinces, Yunnan, Liaoning, Hebei and Henan, have launched trial programs that allow pickups to be driven in urban centers at all times, according to a report by the Reuters news service.

And that’s just the sort of opening American automakers have been hoping for.

Until now, the vast majority of pickups sold in China are what locals call pika-pika, stripped down trucks used to hold goods and equipment on farms and work sites.

But the Detroit makers are now targeting larger, higher-end opportunities with products like the Ford Raptor. General Motors, meanwhile, will begin shipping over U.S.-made Chevrolet Silverados and the smaller Colorado pickup, starting next year.

(China thumbs nose, raises tariffs on imported luxury cars. Click Here for the latest.)

These aren’t being targeted at the average Chinese worker. American-made trucks are saddled with a 25% import tariff, on top of the 17% value-added tax, or VAT, which means the Raptor starts at $80,000 – compared to $48,325 in the U.S.

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