Lookout China Ford Wants To Build Pickups There

None of the US pickup truck manufacturers make them in China. Ford would like to change that, but there have to be some changes before it can begin. A Ford-branded truck could be built but it wants China to reverse its restrictions on trucks entering city centers. It does this to limit the already overtaxed streets in these cities.

China is now the second-biggest pickup truck market in the world. They like their trucks, be they for farms, construction, or the more recent activity as general car buyers increasingly purchase them. Pickup sales have increased partially due to more urban cities relaxing the restrictions. 

Truck Restrictions Must Ease Before Ford Builds In China

“If more areas relax restrictions on pickup trucks we will plan to locally manufacture Ford-branded pickup trucks in China to meet the demands of Chinese consumers with considerations of the market situation,” Joseph Liu, Ford’s China vice president for product innovation told Reuters. 

Harley-Davidson China
Harley-Davidson China | JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Though Ford doesn’t manufacture pickups there, it has partnered with JMC, which makes Yuhu pickups with Ford components. Among other components, it installs Ford’s 2.0-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder engine into its pickups. Ford’s stake in the company is 32%.

China Built Fords Not Like Current Trucks

If Ford was to start making pickups in China, Liu said it would not resemble current Ford products. That’s because the size makes a difference. Chinese roads are typically narrower than in other markets. Also, there are towing limits imposed by the government that make engineering those capabilities into a truck less important. 

This week the China International Expo is held in Shanghai. It is meant to showcase free trade and marketing opportunities. The expo is put on by the Chinese government to encourage global trade and worldwide growth as a way to make the world economy more open. 

There are over 1,000 exhibitors and over 150,000 people attend the trade show. Besides Ford, GM and Fiat-Chrysler are also there displaying trucks. Sales the last two years have dipped for vehicles in China, but the pickup truck segment has continued to grow.  

Jeep will launch the Gladiator there as soon as China-specific regulations are incorporated into the vehicle. GM is there to test the waters for American pickups. It has no plans currently to make these available in China any time soon. 

Ford Sales Down 30% In 2019

Ford’s sales in the third quarter of 2019 fell by 30% in China. It lost over 35% of sales compared to last year in the first quarter of this year. Ford delivered a bit over 131,000 vehicles to China in the third quarter. Total sales this year were 421,000 vehicles in China.

In 2018 car sales in China dropped for the first time since the 1990s. China expects to see low or small negative growth over the next few years.

Overall sales in 2018 fell 37%, so these latest figures are factored against low sales for 2018. In the future, Ford wants to enhance research, production, and marketing. It also wants to modernize some of its manufacturing plants in China.