We’re getting closer to the day that your next car will be delivered by Amazon Prime.
Unless it's a Buick, has a long wheelbase, or is powered by electricity, American cars and China have had a lukewarm relationship. Not that they sell poorly, but the high cost of importing cars into mainland China as well as the struggle in getting Chinese consumers to see vehicles that sell well in America as more than just novelties have made market infiltration tough for many US automakers. Ford, however, thinks it has the solution. With its sights on the future, Ford signed a letter of intent with online sales giant Alibaba.
Together, the duo aims to “jointly explore areas of cooperation in connectivity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobility services, and digital marketing,” according to the press release. This is in line with Ford’s plan to become a purveyor of mobility and the technologies surrounding it rather than just your run-of-the-mill automaker. Alibaba, the eastern world’s equivalent to Amazon, has huge influence in the world of technology and together with Ford, can explore if online sales can become a new means for automakers to sell to customers. “China is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic digital markets, thriving on innovation with customers’ online and offline experiences converging rapidly,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett.
“Collaborating with leading technology players builds on our vision for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionize consumers’ mobility experiences.’’ Of course, any plan to grow in China inherently means that electric cars will be part of the strategy given the country’s hard push to electrify as many vehicles as it can. Ford is already working on this front, with its aforementioned plan to become a transportation company including a goal of introducing 15 electric or hybrid cars to the US by 2025. The duo will start off its three year plan by studying retail opportunities at various stages in the car ownership cycle.
For Alibaba, the deal will give the retail giant an idea of how a large and highly established automotive company runs a complex global operation successfully for more than 100 years. This deal doesn’t quite mean you’ll buy your next car online, but it certainly speeds up the timeframe for when that will happen.