Ford Smart Mobility LLC and Zotye Auto have signed an MOU to establish a new 50:50 JV in Zhejiang province that will focus on providing pure EVs to fleet operators and drivers in China’s ride-hailing market. Each company will provide 50 % of the JV’s registered capital of $20 million. The Zotye-Ford mobility JV will provide ride-hailing fleet operators and drivers with all-electric vehicle leasing services, data-driven fleet management solutions, in-vehicle digital services, connectivity and vehicle customization. Ford Smart Mobility is a Ford Motor Company subsidiary formed to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services.
Ford claims that operators in China’s ride-hailing market are looking to expand their fleets with electric vehicles. According to Boston Consulting Group, the local “e-hailing” market is expected to grow by 19% annually through 2022, with an overall fleet size potentially reaching up to 26 million including both full- and part-time vehicles.
Ford announced earlier this year that at least 70% of Ford-branded vehicles sold in the country will offer electrified powertrain options by 2025. Ford has not been successful with selling EVs in North America.
Ford says the new mobility JV will work closely with the Zotye-Ford manufacturing JV established late last year ( Ford, Zotye Ink Chinese JV Agreement on Electric Vehicles), which will build a range of “stylish and affordable all-electric vehicles for consumers in China under a new indigenous brand, pending virtually certain regulatory approval in the communist directed and controlled economy.
“As people and cities across the world increasingly adopt new mobility services, we also need to work together to ensure these services are solving key issues such as accessibility and air quality versus adding to them,” said Marcy Klevorn, executive vice president and president of mobility, Ford Motor Company. “By providing smart-enabled electric vehicles for the ride-hailing market, this new mobility joint venture will be a key part of the solution for China’s cities.”
Zotye is one of the leading brands in China’s all-electric small vehicle segment and was one of the first automakers to produce all-electric passenger vehicles in the country. The company sold around 36,000 all-electric vehicles in 2017. Zotye Auto is a pioneer in the Chinese all-electric vehicle segment. It is the market leader in China’s all-electric small vehicle. The JV – it’s hoped -will benefit from Zotye’s expertise in designing and commercializing EVs in China, and Ford’s global product development and technology capabilities.
“We are delighted to have signed this MOU today to develop smart mobility solutions for cities in China,” said Ying Jianren, chairman of Tech-New Group Ltd. and board director of Zotye Auto. “This underlines the strength of the relationship between Zotye and Ford, and we look forward to working even closer in the future to provide EV fleet management support for ride-hailing services through this JV.”
As part of Ford’s commitment to “building smart vehicles for a smart world, and to pave the way for a future of V2X and autonomous vehicles,” the new JV will also engage with local governments and cities to support the development of “integrated transportation solutions covering data connectivity and software systems to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and enhance the commuter experience.”
“Last year, our two companies agreed to explore mobility services together to solve emerging transportation challenges for Chinese customers,” said Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president, Ford Asia Pacific. “With today’s announcement, this takes us one step further to offering smart services, connected electric vehicles and data-driven solutions to make China’s urban centers cleaner and journeys more efficient and enjoyable.”