With China swapping out incentives for EVs, Ford takes a cautious approach

With China’s communist party’s leadership not bringing forth bold policies vis-à-vis electric vehicles has forced Ford to take a more cautious approach to the electric and hybrid-plugin car market in China.

Despite a headlong plunge into the plugin-hybrid and electric vehicle markets by carmakers, Ford Motor Co has stated it prefers a more tepid approach since there are numerous uncertainties stemming from uncertainties on government policies and consumer interest regarding them.

“You don’t get any prizes for being first to market,” said Trevor Worthington, Ford’s vice president for product development in Asia Pacific. However there are prizes if you enter the electric vehicles market “at the right time”.

Earlier this month, Ford had outlined its plans to offer fully electric versions and hybrid-plugin versions of all its models in China.

It is now having second thoughts since the entry of such vehicles will heavily depend on regulatory policies, and government subsidies. Establishing charges stations throughout China is also another critical challenge.

During a meeting with reporters ahead of the Shanghai auto show Mazen Hammoud and Worthington disclosed battery charging stations would be a critical issue.

“Our goal needs to be something on the order of less than half an hour” to deliver an 80 percent charge, said Hammoud. Ultimately, “the goal needs to be similar to refueling a gasoline vehicle. We are a long way from that.”

Worthington reinforced the idea that Ford has a “team of people who meet with the government every week” to discuss the still evolving policies designed to promote vehicle electrification.

With Chinese cities facing heavy pollution, China’s communist party had voted to support and subsidize electric vehicles, however with automakers sinking in funds, China is using a carrot and stick approach and is gradually swapping out incentives.

Ford is banking on the fact that the Chinese government will not push its regulatory weight that could significantly harm the industry since Ford is a major employer in China.

“We provide huge employment,” said Worthington. “I don’t think they are going to do things to make it impossible for the joint ventures to survive and thrive.”

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