Ford CEO: China is biggest competitor, not GM or Toyota

U.S. car company Ford’s chief executive Jim Farley said on Thursday (May 25) that Ford’s biggest competitors are Chinese electric carmakers, not GM or Toyota.

Farley made this comment at a sustainable finance summit organized by US investment bank Morgan Stanley. He noted that China is the world’s largest car market, has some of the most advanced battery technology and dominates electric vehicle production.

In Farley’s eyes, the “winners” in the Chinese auto market include Chinese automakers such as BYD, Geely, Great Wall and SAIC.

In the face of Chinese competition, Farley said that Ford needs a unique brand positioning, which he believes Ford already has. Another point that Farley believes is cost. To win in the competition, production costs must be reduced.

On the cost issue, Farley mentioned China again. “If they’re five times your size, how do you beat them on cost? The Europeans let (Chinese players) in, so now they’re selling a lot in Europe,” he said.

Ford announced in February this year that it would invest $3.5 billion to build an electric vehicle battery factory in Michigan, USA, using technology from its Chinese partner CATL to produce lower-cost batteries.

The agreement was criticized by heavyweight U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. The U.S. government is likely to issue rules later this year to determine whether Ford’s agreement with China’s SAIC Motor violates the “prohibition involving entities of concern” under the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit program, Reuters said.

Yahoo Finance reported on Friday that Ford and Tesla, an American electric vehicle company, have reached an agreement that starting next year, users of Ford electric vehicles will be able to use Tesla’s charging stations in North America, including the United States and Canada. The total number of charging piles is 12,000.

That’s good news for Ford EV sales and for Ford customers. Shares of Ford jumped more than seven percent on the news.

General Motors Co. Chief Executive Mary Barra made her first visit to China this week since the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, and sales of GM and almost all other foreign automakers in the Chinese market are still in the doldrums.

Chinese official data shows that in 2022, China will produce 27.021 million vehicles and sell 26.864 million vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 3.4% and 2.1% respectively, the lowest in many years. However, new energy vehicles showed strong growth, with total sales reaching 6.887 million units, a year-on-year increase of 93.4%. Among them, the sales volume of pure electric vehicles was 5.365 million, a year-on-year increase of 81.6%. The sales volume of hybrid vehicles was 151.8, an increase of 1.5 times.

However, the opening up of the epidemic did not bring further prosperity to the Chinese auto market. On the contrary, due to various factors at home and abroad, the market sales have plummeted. In January this year, car sales in the Chinese market were 1.65 million, a year-on-year and month-on-month decline of as much as 35%.