AP NEWS

Ford partners with Alibaba Group in China

December 7, 2017 GMT

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday announced another Chinese partnership to expand its footprint in the world’s largest auto market.

The Dearborn-based automaker has a three-year agreement with Alibaba Group. Alibaba is often referred to as China’s Amazon. The news comes as Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. wrap a week-long trip to the country.

The Alibaba partnership is the latest in a series of partnerships and initiatives in recent months in which Ford amplifies its presence in China. In November, the company announced a $756 million partnership with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co. to build electric vehicles there. Earlier this week, Bill Ford and Hackett announced in China plans to bring 50 new vehicles to market there by 2025, and to build five new vehicles locally in that country.

Ford is a company that’s pegged China as a place it can win — and maybe win big.

“China is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic digital markets, thriving on innovation with customers’ online and offline experiences converging rapidly,” Hackett said in a statement. “Collaborating with leading technology players builds on our vision for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionize consumers’ mobility experiences.”

The Alibaba partnership was formed so the companies could jointly identify chances to “redefine consumer retail experiences and explore solutions for sustainable mobility.”

The companies will work together in the fields of mobility, connectivity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.

The first phase will involve piloting a study on digital retail solutions in the automotive ownership cycle, according to a news release.

And while Ford benefits from Alibaba’s retail and digital experience, Alibaba can pull from Ford’s experience running a global company as the Chinese company tries to expand.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau