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Shake up for Ford Asia Pacific

Change up: Ford’s new standalone Chinese unit will be headed by Anning Chen, an executive who started his career with Ford before switching to independent Chinese manufacturer Chery Automotive in 2010.

Ford Australia to come under new International Markets unit as China separated

Ford logo24 Oct 2018

FORD Australia will be included in a newly created business unit, Ford International Markets, under a shake-up of Ford’s Asia Pacific operations announced jointly in Shanghai and Detroit today.
 
China has been separated into a standalone division, Ford of China, with the focus on reviving the fortunes of the brand in the world’s biggest market where Ford plans to increase production of Ford and Lincoln models, ramp up China-led product development and create a new single sales and service channel. 
 
All the other markets in the former Asia Pacific division, including Australia and New Zealand, will be folded into the new International Markets unit under current Ford Asia Pacific president Peter Fleet, who has been given responsibility for overseeing the transition.
 
A former Ford executive, Anning Chen, who most recently has served as CEO of Chinese independent car-maker Chery Automotive, will return to the Blue Oval on November 1 as president and CEO of Ford of China, reporting directly to Ford president of global markets Jim Farley in Detroit.
 
The moves are part of a global restructuring of Ford that ultimately will include cuts to Ford’s global workforce of more than 200,000 employees.
 
China, where Ford sales have slumped 30 per cent this year, has been a particular focus of the reorganisation that was announced by Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett.
 
He said success in China was critical for Ford as it repositioned its global business for long-term success.
 
“With today’s actions, we are strengthening our commitment to the China market and reorganising our international markets to strengthen their performance,” he said.
 
Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Martin Gunsberg today confirmed that Ford’s Australian operations would join the new International Markets unit.
 
“We will announce more detail once we are closer to establishing the new International Markets business unit,” he said.
 
It is unclear how the Melbourne-based Ford Asia Pacific product development centre and its 2000 employees will fit under the new-look regime.
 
The engineering and design centre – Australia’s biggest R&D operation with an annual budget of about $470 million – does global work on model such as Ranger and Everest for Ford, as well as specific China-market projects that have yielded cars such as the Escort and Taurus.
 
The latest Ford product to be launched in China, the Territory mid-size SUV, was also put through durability testing by the Australian team’s engineers at the You Yangs proving ground at Lara, between Geelong and Melbourne.
 
The Territory – based on Ford Chinese joint venture partner JMC’s Yusheng S330 – is one of three new models that Ford of China is banking on for a reversal of its sales dive that accelerated to 43 per cent last month in China where the motor market has stalled after years of solid growth.
 
Separating the Chinese operation into its own division is designed to shorten the lines of communication with Detroit and, at the same time, put more Chinese executives at the helm.
 
Ford said Mr Chen brought to Ford expertise in leading transformation, establishing alliances and joint ventures, and developing competitive products for China.
 
“He will lead the company’s operations in Greater China, including all import and joint venture operations,” the statement said.
 
Mr Chen began his career with Ford in 1992, spending 17 years in product and technology platform development, as well as joint venture expansion.
 
Between 2010 and 2018, Mr Chen worked for Chery Automotive in a number of roles, including chairman of Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive and chairman of Qoros Automotive.
 
Ford currently has joint ventures with two Chinese car-makers, JMC and Changan, but it will extend that to three with a new partner, Zotye, with which it plans to develop a new line of small electric vehicles.
 
Strategic alliances with giant Chinese tech companies Baidu and Alibaba have also been announced.

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