Ford Motor Co. will invest nearly $2 billion over the next five years on its Chinese R&D operations in a bid to catch up to market leaders Volkswagen AG and General Motors.
A latecomer to what is now the world’s largest automotive market, Ford has rapidly gained ground in recent years as it has expanded both its Chine product portfolio and manufacturing network. Much of its growth has come at the expense of Japanese rivals like Toyota, but the current crisis that has tripped up VW could prove another opportunity for Michigan-based Ford.
The new R&D effort will include the battery-based vehicles that Chinese regulators are demanding in an effort to deal with that country’s endemic smog problems. At a conference in Shanghai on Monday, Ford CEO Mark Fields said the maker will introduce both a hybrid version of the midsize Mondeo, and a plug-in, the C-Max Energi, in China next year.