BEIJING -- Ford Motor Co., notching record sales in China thanks to its solid lineup of hot-selling crossovers, is now beefing up its green-car offerings at the other end of the spectrum.
The U.S. carmaker, as part of a $4.5 billion global investment to introduce 13 new electrified vehicles through 2020, wants 10 to 25 percent of its model mix here to be battery-equipped.
“We’re going to have hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electrics,” said Ford China CEO John Lawler said today on the first press day of the Beijing motor show.
Ford starts the China rollout with the launch of the hybrid version of the Mondeo later this year. The next installment will be the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid arriving in early 2017. Lawler did not offer details on the other vehicles.
The push is part of Ford’s strategy to offer customers a choice of different drivetrains within a nameplate family. The idea is to provide options from a downsized turbocharged engine, a traditional hybrid powertrain, a plug-in hybrid setup and eventually an all-electric variant, he said.
“By 2020, we see 10 to 25 percent of our mix being electrified, probably a majority of that being in the hybrid range and with the fastest growth in plug-in hybrids,” Lawler said.
The campaign comes as automakers in China scramble to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards targeting fuel efficiency and pollution in the world’s largest auto market.
China supports new energy vehicles, or NEVs, with incentives and other perks, such as being exempt from registration restrictions that limit the number of new cars with traditional fuel-burning engines in the country’s megacities.
The subsidies apply to pure electric vehicles and plug-ins produced in China, but not to conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius. And to qualify, plug-in hybrids must be able to travel 50 kilometers (31 miles) in EV mode.
“The fuel economy regulations in China are the most aggressive over the next five years,” Lawler said. “The slope of that line down to greater fuel efficiency is greater than anywhere else.”
That is pressuring Ford and other automakers to roll out NEVs, even as they gorge on booming crossover and SUV sales.
Ford’s sales in China climbed 3 percent to a record 1.12 million vehicles in 2015, fueled by a 13 percent increase in sales from its five-nameplate lineup of crossovers.
The record-setting pace continued in the first three months of this year, with Ford sales up 14 percent to 314,454 vehicles.