BEIJING, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Ford Motor said on Wednesday it will launch in China early next year a new “entry-level” sport utility vehicle developed jointly with a local partner, as the U.S. automaker attempts to revive its slumping business in the world’s biggest auto market.
The Ford Territory, developed with Jiangling Motors Corp (JMC) and available in three powertrain choices including a plug-in hybrid version, is intended to close a gap in its China strategy.
It will allow Ford to cope with surging competition from indigenous Chinese automakers such as Geely and Great Wall Motor that are pumping out hot-selling compact SUVs with competitive quality and lower price tags.
The new SUV is one of the 50 new or redesigned vehicles Ford has said it plans to launch in China starting this year and through 2025, which include the redesigned Ford Focus car due to hit showrooms in China later this year.
Ford did not discuss on Wednesday a specific pricing strategy for the Territory, but two individuals familiar with the new car said it will likely have a price tag under 150,000 yuan ($21,990.27).
The car puts the company in a segment it has never competed in before and which is witnessing surging demand from smaller, but fast-growing interior cities across China that indigenous Chinese automakers have capitalized on to grow rapidly. ($1 = 6.8212 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; Additional reporting by Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)