Ford recruits Alibaba to help break into China's electric vehicle industry

Under their new three-year agreement, the pair will initially explore new opportunities in the auto retailing experience, from pre-sales to test-drives and financial leasing options, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said in its announcement of the partnership.

Ford will cooperate with Alibaba's four business units in operation system, cloud computing, digital marketing and online retail.

Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba Group Holding and Ford Motor said they will work together to find ways to improve the retail experience for customers as the US carmarker tries to boost sales in China.

Hackett stated that China is one of the world's largest and most vibrant digital markets that are prosperous in the innovation of user's online and offline experiences swiftly. "Our data-driven technology and platform will expand the definition of auto ownership beyond just having a mode of transportation and into a new medium for smart lifestyle".

Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed that 517,000 new energy vehicles, including full electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, were manufactured and 490,000 were sold between January and October, both up over 45 percent year-on-year.

Ford believes dealers would likely agree to this direct retailing model because they still get to service cars sold through Tmall, the Ford source said. Collaborating with leading technology players builds on our vision for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionize consumers' mobility experiences, " said Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO. The company now hopes to expand its presence in the world's most populace country.

For Alibaba, the new tie-up marks its first major partnership with an global automotive company since upgrading its operating system strategy to focus investment on the IoT and auto sector in September.

The move will have a big payoff for Alibaba as well as it will learn about outside markets.

"That is a core difference that makes Alibaba's auto strategy stand out from other internet vehicle companies", he said.