Ford names new China chief to halt losses


TOKYO • Ford Motor Co elevated China to a standalone division reporting directly to its global headquarters and brought back a company veteran to head the operations as it tries to return the unit to profit amid a slowing market.

Anning Chen, a former Ford manager who later served as the CEO of Chery Automobile Co Ltd and chairman of Chery and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plc’s joint venture (JV), will lead Ford’s turnaround effort in the country, the company said yesterday.

Ford is doubling down on China and plans to introduce 50 new vehicles by 2025 and increase local production for Ford and Lincoln brands after falling behind rivals in the world’s largest market. To cater to the booming demand for electric cars in China, where Tesla Inc is setting up a car factory, Ford has set up a JV with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co Ltd to produce a range of small battery-powered vehicles.

The split of China into its own business unit follows what rival General Motors Co did years earlier, signalling the emphasis global carmakers are placing on the crucial market. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in July that he was “extremely dissatisfied” with his company’s performance in China after losing US$483 million (RM2.01 billion) in the second quarter. He cautioned that it may take until 2020 before an updated range of SUVs starts to make a difference to the bottom line.

Ford unveiled a new SUV with its JV partner Jiangling Motors Corp last week, counting on the market in lower tier cities to help boost its flagging sales.