US unprepared for electric car fight against China, Ford boss says

Bill Ford - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

Bill Ford – Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

The United States is not prepared for the battle to compete with China on electric cars, the boss of Ford has warned.

Chairman Bill Ford said China’s electric car market has grown at a rapid pace and the company is now taking an “everyone on deck” approach to prepare for a flood of foreign imports.

Mr Ford, who is the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, said: “They are [China] not here but they will come here, we think that at some point we have to be ready, and we are preparing.

“They grew very quickly, and they scaled them up. And now they export them.

China is poised to overtake Germany as the world’s biggest car exporter, with overseas shipments of Chinese-made cars having tripled since 2020 to more than 2.5 million last year.

Ford is investing $3.5bn (£2.7bn) to build a massive battery factory in Michigan under a deal with Chinese company CATL.

However, the deal is being scrutinized by Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who says it risks making the United States more dependent on China.

Like the UK and European countries, the US is bracing for an influx of Chinese-made cars.

Electric cars made in China are already available in the UK, under the SAIC-owned MG brand. Another major Chinese manufacturer that is interested in exporting is Geely, which owns Volvo, Lotus and has a stake in Aston Martin.

MGs have grown in popularity partly because they are cheaper than other electric vehicles Tesla makes, and the company said it expects sales to expand in the UK. For example, the MG ZS starts at £30,500, while the Tesla Model 3 starts at £38,800.

Chinese brands including BYD; Funky Cat, which belongs to the giant Great Wall Motor; and Chery; all plan to bring their vehicles to the UK.

China has cheap labor, cheap raw materials such as steel, and a vast lead in building battery factories, with more than 100 built and 200 underway, while Europe and the United States each have less than a dozen.

As the largest automotive market in the world, it seeks to export and capitalize on this advantage.

Their plans in the UK could be foiled if public charging is not expanded quickly and cheaply to tempt car buyers who do not have access to home charging. Cars that cost more than their petrol equivalents combined with expensive electricity offer a bad deal.

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