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Ford to launch new basic SUV in bid to revive China business

Beijing

FORD Motor said on Wednesday it will launch in China early next year a new "entry-level" sport utility vehicle developed jointly with a local partner, as the US carmaker attempts to revive its slumping business in the world's biggest car market.

The Ford Territory, developed with Jiangling Motors Corp and available in three powertrain choices including a plug-in hybrid version, is intended to close a gap in its China strategy. The new SUV is one of the 50 new or redesigned vehicles Ford has said it plans to launch in China starting this year and through 2025, which include the redesigned Ford Focus car due to hit showrooms later this year.

It will make it possible for Ford to compete with indigenous Chinese carmakers such as Geely and Great Wall Motor that are pumping out hot-selling compact SUVs with competitive quality and lower price tags.

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Ford did not discuss on Wednesday a specific pricing strategy for the Territory, but two individuals familiar with the new car said it is likely to have a price tag of around 150,000 yuan (S$30,000).

The car puts the company in a segment it has never competed in before and which is witnessing surging demand from smaller but fast-growing interior cities across China that indigenous Chinese carmakers have capitalised on to grow rapidly.

"Clearly this has been a difficult year for Ford in China. But this new vehicle is part of our growth plan that will improve our business in China and return us to profitability and set us on a growth trajectory again in China," Ford's Asia-Pacific and China chief Peter Fleet said.

"This isn't going to be an instantaneous turnaround of our business in China, but you're going to see a series of actions, a series of products and a series of moves that will return us to being a very successful growth business in China." REUTERS