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Ford, Zotye team up to get piece of China EV future

Beijing throws open door to more joint-ventures in eco-friendly vehicle push

Ford will market electric vehicles under a local brand under its new joint venture with Anhui Zotye Automobile, rather than using its own name.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- Ford Motor and Chinese automaker Anhui Zotye Automobile aim to form an electric-car joint venture, spying opportunities in a nation seeking to nurture so-called new-energy vehicles as an industry.

The 50-50 venture would develop, build and sell electrics under a homegrown brand, the American carmaker announced Tuesday. Such specifics as the brand's name and the timing will be revealed after Chinese regulators greenlight the tie-up.

"Electric vehicles will be a big part of the future in China," the world's largest auto market, said Peter Fleet, a Ford group vice president.

Zotye is a midsize manufacturer of gasoline-powered vehicles as well as small and midsize electric cars. The company sold about 16,000 electrics from January to July, up 56% on the year. It ranks third in the Chinese market for new-energy vehicles, trailing the likes of BYD. Zotye's mainstay Cloud 100 electric mini-hatchback offers a range of 100km to 150km and costs around 150,000 yuan ($22,500).

Aiming to develop its new-energy-vehicle industry, China raised the ceiling on joint ventures by foreign manufacturers from two to three this June. Many foreign producers are on the hunt for partners. Germany's Volkswagen recently established its third joint venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile.

Ford operates joint ventures with Chongqing Changan Automobile and Jiangling Motors in southern China.

France and the U.K. intend to ban sales of gasoline-and diesel-powered autos by 2040. Such nations as India are also supporting the development of new-energy vehicles. Swedish automaker Volvo Cars said in July that all vehicles it launches from 2019 will be electrics and hybrids.

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