SHANGHAI: US auto giant Ford will invest nearly $2.0 billion on research and development in China, it said on Monday, despite falling sales in the world’s biggest auto market.
The 11.4 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) investment, to be completed by 2020, will build up Ford’s R&D capability in the country, especially at an existing engineering center in the eastern city of Nanjing, the company said in a statement.
“With this investment in research and development, the next generation of Ford vehicles will be completely designed around our customers,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president and chief executive officer.
Ford sold 700,196 vehicles in China during the first eight months of 2015, but that was down around one percent from the same period last year, amid an overall slowdown in the market due to weaker economic growth.
In August alone, the carmaker reported sales of 79,608 vehicles in China, a three percent decrease compared to the same month in 2014.
Still, Ford will expand its product line for the Chinese market by launching two electric vehicles next year, the statement said.
Beijing has made new-energy vehicles a priority but sales have disappointed despite the government push, industry officials say.
Ford also said it had partnered with Dida Pinche, operator of China’s largest car-pooling app, to match Ford drivers with passengers in Beijing and Shanghai, cities which are plagued with traffic congestion.