Ford bolsters R&D spending in China

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Ford is betting big on the world’s largest auto market as it invests a reported $2.3 billion (CAN) in R&D to advance vehicle technologies in China.

Reports from several news outlets this week indicate the Blue Oval will examine smartphone connectivity, autonomous driving and additional new technologies over a five-year period.

“We see China as a very big growth market,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said at an event in Shanghai, according to reports.

“It’s a great opportunity to not only grow our core business of selling cars and trucks but also provide services to people who may not want a car but still want to be mobile.”

Fields told the audience it would offer its C-Max plug-in hybrid and the Mondeo hybrid in China in 2016.

China earned the title of world’s largest auto market by volume sales back in 2000. While totals continued to rise in the face of new options, pent-up demand and weakening financial restrictions, that torrid pace has stalled of late with a trio of monthly declines.

September figures marked the third straight month of sagging sales as passenger vehicle sales hit 1.42 million in August down 3.4 per cent.

- with files from the Wall Street Journa
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