A classic American car company is planning to import one of its sports utility vehicles from China.
Bloomberg reported recently that Ford Motor Co. will start to import the Lincoln Nautilus, a restyled SUV that it will be releasing as a major vehicle in its fleet, from China. As other companies are abandoning the Communist country, Ford seems to be deepening the connections it already has.
The new SUV is set to hit the market in the U.S. in 2024. In addition to a “sleek new look,” according to the company, it will also be a hybrid gas and electric vehicle. When this all happens, the Nautilus will become the first vehicle model that Ford will import from China.
The company already has a major plant in Hangzhou, China, which is part of a joint venture the company has with Changan Automobile. That plant has made the Nautilus model for sale in China for a while now, and will just become the plant that makes the models for the U.S. market, too.
As the hostility between China and America continues to escalate, many major U.S. companies are moving their operations out of the country as much as possible. Apple, for instance, has been working to move much of its manufacturing out of the country and back to the U.S.
It’s very likely that Ford is going to be heavily criticized for this move, yet it’s not the only thing that will draw the ire of critics. The company is building a battery plant in Michigan and has plans to license some of the technology it will use there from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., a company based in China.
Already, automobile organizations are warning Ford that this may not be a smart move. For instance, LMC Automotive’s president of the Americas, Jeff Schuster, recently commented:
“Given the environment today, having a vehicle sourced from China may be a risky decision. There’s a potential for backlash.”
One of Ford’s largest competitors, General Motors, imports one of its models from China – the Buick Envision. The compact SUV has been imported from a factory in China since back in 2016.
During an interview on Monday, Dianne Craig, the president of Lincoln, said the company didn’t have a choice but to import the SUV from China. She said that all of the American plants that Ford has were taken, and the plant in Canada were the Nautilus is currently being built for buyers in North America is being retooled in 2024 so it can make electric vehicles.
As Craig said:
“We’re already building Nautilus in China. It just made sense to centralize our Nautilus production.”
Of all the Nautilus vehicles that the plant in Hangzhou makes, roughly 35% will be shipped over to North America, with many of those going to the United States. Craig further said that China is now “very important” to the Lincoln brand, with half of all its sales around the globe coming from there.
Still, Ford is the largest manufacturer of automobiles in America.