BEIJING – Ford Motor Co. has announced an agreement with a Chinese partner to look into forming a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China.
Ford’s announcement Tuesday of the potential venture with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co. comes as global automakers are ramping up investment in developing electric models for China’s huge but competitive market.
Chinese planners who see electrics as a promising industry are pushing automakers to speed up development.
Ford previously said it plans to offer electric versions of 70 percent of its models in China by 2025.
Privately owned Zotye Auto, headquartered in the eastern city of Huangshan, produces its own electric vehicles and said sales in the first seven months of this year rose 56 percent over the same period of 2016 to 16,000.
“This presents us with an exciting opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths,” Zotye Chairman Jin Zheyong said in a joint statement.
Sales of pure-electric and gasoline-electric hybrids in China rose 50 percent last year over 2015 to 336,000 vehicles, or 40 percent of global demand. U.S. sales totaled 159,620.
Beijing has supported sales with subsidies and a planned quota system that would require automakers to produce electric cars or buy credits from companies that do.
Ford said it expects China’s market for all-electrics and hybrids to grow to annual sales of 6 million by 2025.