Ford Motor Co. plans to invest US$1.8 billion on research and development (R&D) activities in China over the next five years and come up with the next generation of vehicles for the world’s biggest car market.
The company hopes the R&D spending will help it develop smartcar features specifically tailored to Chinese drivers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“We see China as a very big growth market,” Chief Executive Mark Fields was quoted as saying Monday.
“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.”
Potential features include allowing drivers to control more car systems through their smartphones and to use their mobile chat functions, particularly during traffic jams, the report said.
Ford’s announcement came at the US automaker’s sales have been slipping in China amid industrywide weakness and rising competition.
During the first eight months of this year, Ford sold 531,702 passenger cars in China, down 1.2 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the report.
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