Alibaba, Ford Partner to Redefine the Driving Experience

Executive chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett shared the vision on December 5 in China in a meeting with employees, customers, dealers and government officials.

According to the source, who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak with reporters, the deal is meant to position the Dearborn, Michigan, carmaker for an emerging Chinese marketplace where more cars could be sold online.

Direct sales from automaker to consumer are possible in China and other global markets, but the practice is generally illegal in most USA states.

Back to Fords on Tmall, the model allows shoppers with good credit to purchase a auto with a 10% downpayment, and then make monthly payments via Alibaba's Alipay.

Alibaba has previously said a score above 750 through its own credit scoring model called Sesame - can purchase the vehicle with a 10% down payment and a commitment to monthly payments through Alipay, according to Reuters.

Additionally, the partnership with Alibaba could lead to the latest 'Automotive Vending Machine' where vehicles are directly sold to consumers.

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The vending machine will reportedly allow prospective customers to view a store's inventory on their phones, as well as summon them to the ground floor for a test drive or even purchase them outright. The cars would then be maintained and repaired by these franchise locations.

The three‐year agreement will see the duo work together on online vehicle sales, artificial intelligence and transport services.

Speaking to Reuters, head of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight, Yale Zhang, said it will hurt traditional dealers. "Retail innovation is great, but is by its nature disruptive and can't keep everyone happy".

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.

"China is not only the largest auto market in the world, it's also at the heart of electric-vehicle and SUV growth and the mobility movement", Ford Motor Executive Chairman Bill Ford said at the Shanghai event.

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