Ford Motor Co expects to sign a deal by Thursday with Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding that might allow the automaker based in the U.S.to test selling its vehicles to clients in China via the online retail platform of Alibaba's known as Tmall, and through a new store concept know as auto vending machine, said sources at Ford. The deal could be announced as early as tomorrow, and it would reportedly allow the US -based automaker to sell cars on Tmall, which is Alibaba's e-commerce division.
The vending machine will reportedly allow prospective customers to view a store's inventory on their phones, as well as summon them to the ground floor for a test drive or even purchase them outright.
Ford will likely have to work hard to assuage any concerns of its dealer body with any Alibaba deal, as their existing network of retailers could grow concerned that they are being cut out of new vehicle sales and financing opportunities.
Ford executive chairman William C. Ford Jr. said China will be the best market to develop and sell electric vehicles.
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Ford Motor Co will launch 50 new vehicles in China by 2025, including 15 electrified vehicles, the U.S. firm said at an event in Shanghai on Tuesday, as it looks to rev up sales growth in the market and shift towards cleaner electric cars. The automaker is also said to be overhauling its strategy for China, where it has lost its momentum in growth.
Reuters' source at Ford also reportedly provided details about what Ford's direct-sales presence in China could look like.
Vehicles that are bought online are to be delivered to buyers by franchised Ford retail stores and repaired and maintained by them as well.