Ford Motor Corporation is planning to invest $1.8 billion in China exclusively for smart cars. Due to rising competition and industry wide weaknesses, the company’s sales have been plummeting at a steady rate in the country. Ford Chief Executive, Mark Shields said that the investment would be over the next five years and the next generation of Ford vehicles will be designed around customers. “We see China as a very big growth market,” he said on Monday, October 12th. “It’s a great opportunity to grow not only our core business of selling cars and trucks but also provide services to people that may not want a car but still want to be mobile.”
The investment will be used for research on how to add better smartphone connectivity, autonomous driving and other smart car features to its Chinese products. Ford’s announcement has come at a time when China’s new car sales fell to 1.42 million vehicles, a drop of 3.4% in August. The company is however confident that new car sales will gradually go up and this investment will help its cause. A connectivity system called Sync 3 that would offer hands-free control of phones, entertainment, climate control and navigation will be likely introduced next year by the company. “Enhanced voice recognition technology, a more smartphone-like interface and easier-to-read graphics will help to deliver an easier way to stay connected”, said Ford.