Business / Auto China

Changan Ford gears up for NEV market

By Hao Yan (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-28 08:31

Changan Ford gears up for NEV market

Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in hybrid car is displayed, with a charging box on the wall, at an exhibition in Shanghai last year. HAO YAN / CHINA DAILY

Sino-US joint venture Changan Ford is entering the new energy vehicle market as it transforms from a traditional carmaker into an auto mobility solution provider, after gaining a foothold in the Chinese market by offering customers a wide variety of models that meet their new demands.

Ford Motors' new energy vehicle strategy means that 10 to 25 percent of its global sales volume should come from NEVs by 2020, and Changan Ford hopes to match this in China.

The carmaker is developing a new energy platform that can be deployed on hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid and fully battery vehicles. The platform allows the NEV models to be tailored so that they conform to the needs and regulations of different markets.

"We are going to keep investing heavily in NEVs," said Marin Burela, president of Changan Ford Automobile Co.

"With the latest platform, we will tailor the models to touch the hearts and minds of Chinese customers," said Burela.

"We need to be leading in technologies, fuel economy and emission, with the right electric strategy and very broad vision," he said.

The C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid vehicle is set to follow the Mondeo PHEV, which is already in production at the company's Chongqing plant, into the Chinese market.

Against its domestic rivals, Changan Ford has climbed from sixth to fourth in terms of sales volume so far this year. It has achieved a sales volume of 244,000 units in the first quarter, up 23 percent on the same period in 2015.

"We have been continuously focusing on the voice of Chinese customers, and we will never stop doing that," Burela said.

"Just four months after it was launched, the Taurus is already outselling its major rivals. We also have an unparalleled lineup of SUVs. Changan Ford is extremely aggressive when it comes to introducing new cars," he said.

The Chongqing-based carmaker has found from customer feedback that Chinese buyers require connectivity that enables them to work while they commute, and that they also favor a grand-looking exterior.

The carmaker's answer is the Ford Taurus Limited Edition, which makes its Chinese debut at Auto China 2016. The car is designed to be a sophisticated modern mobile office on four wheels. The Sync 3 connectivity function is provided for the first time, and it enables passengers to meet work demands through wireless connectivity.

Work is not the only consideration, though. Passengers may relax in their seat and enjoy a massage and they can also talk to the vehicle. If the driver or passenger says "I need coffee", the car will help them find the nearest cafe, according to the company. In addition to the in-car technologies and ambient configurations, slight changes have been made to the locally produced models to meet the aesthetic requirements of Chinese customers.

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