Ford to Partner with Alibaba

Ford models at Auto Guangzhou in Guangzhou

Those cars would come from Ford or from one of its dealers but those details are not yet worked out, added the source.

They have been encouraged by China and Beijing's governments, which have put significant resources behind electric vehicle manufacturing and have introduced regulations that mandate auto companies sell a greater proportion of electric and hybrid vehicles or get shut out of the world's biggest auto market. The deal could be announced as early as tomorrow, and it would reportedly allow the USA -based automaker to sell cars on Tmall, which is Alibaba's e-commerce division. The automaker is also reportedly considering a new "Automotive Vending Machine" concept in the country.

Eight of these new vehicles will be SUVs, and all are falling under the Lincoln and Ford brands and will be built in China.

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Reuters reports that Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Executive Chairman Bill Ford are expected to be in Hangzou Thursday to sign a letter of intent regarding the retail partnership with Alibaba.

Ford executive chairman William C. Ford Jr. said China will be the best market to develop and sell electric vehicles. The automaker is also said to be overhauling its strategy for China, where it has lost its momentum in growth.

General Motors Co. has said that it plans to make all its new vehicles in China either hybrid or fully electric by 2025. Alibaba is headquartered in Hangzhou.

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The Ford source said this new proposal would mean that vehicles bought online are then delivered to the buyer by a franchised Ford store and would have maintenance and any repairs done by them. 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.

Auto manufacturers may also find consumers who are more willing to make the switch from gas to electric-powered vehicles.

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