Ford revving up electric-car campaign in China

The competition to develop environmentally friendly cars in China just got hotter after U.S. automaker Ford Motor said Thursday it will electrify most of its vehicles in the mainland within the next decade.

By 2025, Ford plans to have electric and hybrid vehicles account for 70% of its sales in China. Although the Chinese government generously subsidizes green vehicles, Ford’s latest move has largely been prompted by stricter environmental regulations coming down the pipe. Ford is adapting to the expected changes by placing a heavier focus on local production and sales of electric vehicles.

The car company will get the ball rolling by launching a plug-in hybrid sedan at the beginning of next year. The vehicle will be produced at a plant jointly owned by China’s Chongqing Changan Automobile. Ford will also put out within five years a small electric SUV that can run for over 450km on a single charge.

Ford will start making electric-vehicle powertrains and other components in China by 2020. The automaker is also developing batteries and other technological advances for next-generation electric vehicles in Nanjing.

Electric vehicles, which do not produce exhaust, are expected to take off in China in the near future. Some 146,800 of the vehicles were sold in 2015, but that number will skyrocket 14-fold to 2.03 million in 2035 and account for nearly 40% of the global market, according to forecasts by Tokyo-based market research firm Fuji Keizai.

European automakers are busy setting up their own partnerships in China. Volkswagen and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile are pursuing a 50-50 joint venture with the aim of manufacturing and selling green cars. BYD and Daimler, another Sino-German pair, are marketing luxury electric vehicles through a joint venture.

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