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Ford, China's Zotye Auto invest US$756m in electric vehicle

[HONG KONG] Ford Motor and China's Anhui Zotye Automobile have agreed to invest a combined US$756 million to set up a 50-50 joint venture in China to build electric passenger vehicles, both companies said on Wednesday.

The new joint venture, Zotye Ford Automobile Co Ltd, plans to build a manufacturing plant in Zhejiang province and will sell all-electric vehicles under a new Chinese brand, tapping into a boom for such vehicles in the world's top auto market, Ford Motor said in a statement.

"Zotye Ford will introduce a new brand family of small all-electric vehicles," Ford group vice president Peter Fleet said in the statement. "We will be exploring innovative vehicle connectivity and mobility service solutions for a new generation of young city-dwelling Chinese customers." The JV deal was signed during U. President Donald Trump's visit to China as the two countries inked commercial deals worth about US$9 billion.

In addition to the new JV, Ford and Zotye will explore offering mobility services to consumers in China as local demand for such solutions continues to grow, Ford's statement added.

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China, struggling with alarming pollution levels in major cities, is aggressively pushing plug-in vehicles and has poured in tens of billions of yuan in investment, research funding and subsidies, drawing many new automakers to launch projects.