New joint venture Ford Zotye Automobile will establish manufacturing plant and R&D centre for EVs in Zhejiang Province
Ford Motor and Chinese automaker Zotye have signed a deal to establish Zotye Ford Automobile Co – a new 50:50 joint venture (JV) to build EVs in China.
The agreement was signed in Beijing today (November 8) by Ford group vice president and president for Ford Asia Pacific, Peter Fleet, and Zotye board director and Tech-New Group chairman Ying Jianren. The agreement comes during a visit to China by US President Trump, during which a number of corporate deals are expected to be signed.
The two plan to invest in the region of 5 billion yuan (around US$756 million) in the new JV. Zotye Ford will design, build, market and distribute all-electric passenger EVs, through the construction of a dedicated research and development centre and a new manufacturing plant in Zhejiang Province. The company will also establish its own sales and services network.
Ford has been slow to adopt electrified technologies, but this year has seen a turnaround with a raft of new initiatives announced to boost the roll-out. China is a key part of this strategy, with the manufacturer announcing in April that 70% of models sold there would be electrified by 2025.
Meanwhile, in the US the company has created a new dedicated unit called “Team Edison” to focus on EV development.
“We are delighted to have signed this joint venture agreement with Zotye to form our third joint venture automotive company in China. Subject to regulatory approval, Zotye Ford will introduce a new brand family of small all-electric vehicles,” Fleet said. “We will be exploring innovative vehicle connectivity and mobility service solutions for a new generation of young city-dwelling Chinese customers.”
Exactly what those vehicles might look like, or how many there will be, is unclear. However previous efforts have included the 5008 SUV EV and the E200, which bears a strong resemblance to Smart’s fortwo.
Nevertheless, Zotye Auto claims to be the market leader in China’s all-electric small vehicle segment, having sold over 22,500 EVs during this year-to-date through October. The JV will therefore rely on Zotye’s local sales expertise with Ford supplying product development and technology knowledge, as tends to be the pattern of these JVs.
“This is an important day for Zotye as we partner with Ford to help advance the growth of the Chinese auto industry,” said Zotye’s Ying. “We will work closely together to help meet Chinese consumers’ growing demand for electric vehicles.”