Ford plans deal with Alibaba to sell passenger cars online in China

Ceria Alfonso
Diciembre 7, 2017

Ford is expected to sign a deal with China's Alibaba Group that may allow the carmaker to test selling cars to Chinese consumers via Alibaba's online retail arm Tmall, formerly known as Taobao Mall. Collaborating with leading technology players builds on our vision for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionize consumers' mobility experiences, " said Jim Hackett, Ford's President and CEO.

The company will launch at least 15 new electrified vehicles from Ford and Lincoln.

Mark Truby, Ford's global chief spokesman said the company is expected to make an announcement on Thursday in Hangzhou, where Alibaba is based, but declined to comment in advance.

The source said the proposal could mean that cars bought online are delivered to buyers by franchised Ford retail stores and would be maintained and repaired by them.

Ford could also use Tmall's new retail concept called the "Automotive Vending Machine" - a multi-storey parking garage - to sell directly to consumers.

The cars could come directly from Ford or from its dealer network - the details are still being worked out, Reuters reported.

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One avenue under consideration is the sale of Ford cars on Tmall, an Alibaba spokeswoman said. The vehicle would be delivered to them on the ground floor. This model bypasses the traditional dealership, but Ford believes dealers would agree to this direct selling model because they still get to service the cars, the source explained.

"When online sales and direct sales volume was small that is one thing".

Should Ford choose to provide the cars directly to Alibaba, the deal could anger dealers who are losing out both on potential auto sales as well as the financing behind it.

Online auto sales volumes are now limited in China because vehicle buyers want to be able to see, touch and drive cars before buying them, said Zhang.

Ford's China sales have been sluggish in recent months as it struggles to keep pace with rapidly changing trends, including increased demand for entry-level cars in smaller cities.

China is the world's largest auto market, with about 23 million vehicles sold in the first 10 months of the year.

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