Ford to sell cars in China via Alibaba's Taobao

Ford on Thursday confirmed a three-year agreement with Alibaba Group that will see the two titans "identify new opportunities to redefine consumer retail experiences and explore solutions for sustainable mobility".

At the initial stage of the partnership, both sides will conduct a pilot study to explore potential New Retail opportunities at various stages of the automotive ownership cycle, from pre-sales to test drives to financial leasing options, according to a statement from Alibaba. It also allows Ford to further tailor vehicles to more closely meet the needs of Chinese customers.

Hackett added that Ford's goal is to become the most trusted mobility firm of the world, designing smart cars for a smart world.

Dealers are understandably concerned, though Ford believes they would agree considering they still get to service the cars.

Alibaba says that consumers can use their phones to browse the cars in the garage, before choosing to either test drive it or buy immediately. The vehicle would then be delivered to the ground floor automatically. "Retail innovation is great, but it's by nature disruptive and can't keep everybody happy", said Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight.

"When online sales and direct sales volume was small that is one thing".

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Ford Motor Co. and leading Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba on Thursday announced a major strategic collaboration in online car-related services, as the US auto giant seeks to revive its flagging sales in the world's largest vehicle market.

Online vehicle sales volumes are now small in China because buyers want to be able to see, touch and drive cars before buying, Zhang pointed out.

Online auto sales volumes are now limited in China because vehicle buyers want to be able to see, touch and drive cars before buying them, said Zhang.

Ford's Chinese sales have been sluggish in recent months in part because it has failed to catch on to rapidly changing trends in the marketplace, including the rise of entry-level cars popular in smaller and less well-known cities, where demand is booming. The ability to test drive a vehicle ordered online could change that.

Ford's sales in the first 10 months of 2017 were 938,570, a decline of 5% from the same period in 2016, against a 2.2% gain to 3.13-million for rival General Motors.

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