Ford and Alibaba look to work together in China

By Graeme Roberts | 7 December 2017

Ford and Alibaba sign letter of intent

Ford and Alibaba sign letter of intent

As expected, Ford Motor Company and Alibaba Group on Thursday agreed to explore a strategic collaboration to jointly identify new opportunities to redefine consumer retail experiences and explore solutions for sustainable mobility.

Jim Hackett, Ford president & CEO, and Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group CEO, met at Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou and witnessed the signing of a letter of intent between the two companies. Jason Luo, chairman and CEO of Ford  China, and Simon Hu, SVP of Alibaba, president of Alibaba Cloud and president of AliOS signed the strategic cooperation agreement on behalf of both organisations.

Under the three year agreement, both companies will jointly explore areas of cooperation that are reshaping the automotive industry in China and around the world. Ford will cooperate with Alibaba's four business units in operation system, cloud computing, digital marketing and online retail respectively - namely AliOS, Alibaba Cloud, Alimama and Tmall - and jointly explore a variety of areas of cooperation including mobility services, connectivity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.

"China is one of the world's largest and most dynamic digital markets, thriving on innovation with customers' online and offline experiences converging rapidly. Collaborating with leading technology players builds on our vision for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionise consumers' mobility experiences,'' said Hackett.

"Alibaba is excited to redefine the consumer journey and user experience for automobiles together with Ford," said Zhang. "Our data-driven technology and platform will expand the definition of car ownership beyond just having a mode of transportation and into a new medium for smart lifestyle."

In the initial phase, Ford and Alibaba will explore a pilot study on digital solutions for new retail opportunities at various stages of the automotive ownership cycle, from presales and test drives to leasing options.

By leveraging both parties' areas of expertise, both companies are investigating ways that mobility technology could redefine online retail marketing, distribution strategies, cloud connectivity and infotainment services.

Alibaba will gain from Ford's experience of running complex global operations, with more than 100 years legacy of developing, manufacturing and selling vehicles globally, and experience of providing trusted service through the established global dealer networks. Ford can also leverage the wide spectrum of Alibaba's resources including new retail services, Internet of Things solutions, cloud computing and data technologies to transform vehicle ownership in the new retail era.