One of the most important markets for automakers exists in China. There is an unstoppable force of buying power that is growing, and it's doing so on a massive scale. Every automaker is looking to gain an edge when it comes to the Chinese market, and Ford may have just taken a big step towards breaking new ground. The Blue Oval brand is looking to team up with Alibaba, according to Reuters' sources.
If you're not familiar with Alibaba, it's the largest e-commerce, retail, and technology company in China. Founded by Jack Ma back in 1999, Alibaba now boasts a yearly revenue north of $20 billion and has over 50,000 employees. It's also an easy path for Ford to find a strong foothold with the Chinese buying public. That's because Alibaba operates an online shopping mall called Tmall.
Buying a car online is set to become more prevalent in the years to come. You can now do so on Amazon. Tesla would love for you to spend dough on a Model 3 in this manner. And soon Ford could be shipping off rides right through Tmall, including perhaps the F-150 Raptor.
A consumer would purchase a car online by dropping an initial 10 percent down payment. The car would then be delivered to a local Ford vendor, and the buyer would make their monthly payments through Alibaba's own affiliate payment company called Alipay. According to Reuters, there's another sales model also in the works and it's being referred to as an Automotive Vending Machine.
A multi-story parking structure would house vehicles for sale. The buyer would head to one of these vending machines, select a vehicle via an inventory system that can be viewed through one's mobile phone, and then buy or test drive that vehicle as it's dropped off at the ground floor of the parking facility.
These are ways in which an automaker selling cars in the United States wouldn't see much luck. That's because the dealer association would be quick to shut down such attempts. You can follow along with the issues that Tesla has had butting up against various dealer groups in different states. In China, however, a growing consumer base is eager to get its hands on a wide range of products, and automobiles are a major part of that massive demand.