updated - June 24, 2021 Thursday EDT
Ford Motor Co. is investing about 11.4 billion yuan or about $1.8 billion over the next five years on research and development for smart cars that is aimed to attract Chinese buyers, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
The automaker is looking to increase its sales in the second largest economy in the world with its investment.
The Wall Street Journal adds that Ford is looking to install smart-car systems in China using technology that the company developed and uses in other markets.
Ford will be researching on how to add greater smartphone connectivity, autonomous driving, and other smart car features to its Chinses products.
The Wall Street Journal adds that potential new features of the smart car would include drivers being able to control more systems in the car using their smartphones.
The company will also be potentially featuring the use of mobile chat functions, especially during traffic jams.
The Wall Street Journal adds that Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford, sees a lot of growth potential in the Chinese market.
"We see China as a very big growth market," he said. "It's a great opportunity to grow not only our core business of selling cars and trucks but also provide services to people that may not want a car but still want to be mobile."
ABC News adds that global automakers have been spending heavily to appeal the Chinese market as they see China as a key source of sales growth.
Some automakers have even taken the strategy of creating vehicles that will be available in China only.
The August auto sales in China have declined by 3.4 percent from a year earlier to 1.4 million vehicles, according to ABC News.
This is the third straight month that new car sales in China have declined.
ABC News adds that the slowing sales are due to the congestion in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities that made car ownership less attractive.
The government has also stepped up its efforts to limit the number of new vehicle registration to curb traffic and smog.
The Wall Street Journal adds that Ford's sale in China during the first eight months of the year is down by 1.2 percent to 531,702 from a year earlier.
The automaker was able to sell 537,997 cars in the same period last year.
ABC News adds that Ford plans to add a vehicle testing center in Nanjing that will expand its ability to develop products in China.
The automaker currently has 10 manufacturing facilities in China.
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