Friday, August 14, 2020

So, Is the Ford Territory American or Chinese?


The launch of the Ford Territory while good for the Filipino consumer (hey, it starts at just P 1.179 million) has certainly raised some eyebrows, particularly for brand purists who see this as nothing more than a re-badge of a Chinese-made vehicle.

True enough, do a quick Google search, and it shows that this second-generation Territory is “based off a Jiangling (JMC) Yusheng S330.” Since the Philippines will be the first market in the world among Ford’s International Market Group to receive this new compact crossover, in the interest of fairness, we just had to ask Ford Philippines’s managing director, PK Umashankar on his take.

Bluntly, we had to ask: “what do you say to people who see the Ford Territory as a lazy-ass re-badge of a Chinese SUV?”

His answer, surprised even us.

“Ford has technology and manufacturing partnerships globally, and while the Territory is a product between us and our joint-venture partner Jiangling Motors in China, the design, development, engineering, testing, and drive assessment are all owned by Ford.

The design, for example, was done by Ford’s design studio in Melbourne, Australia; testing and validation was done in both Geelong Proving Grounds in Australia as well as in Nanjing, China; and the engine itself, is joint-developed by Ford of Europe and Jiangling Motors.

Ford is acting as a global conglomerate that accesses its capabilities across partnerships to deliver a product that can deliver on the customer expectations of any market.

We access our reach across our global partnerships in terms of manufacturing as well. Yes, the Territory is made in China, but it’s the same plant that currently makes the Philippine market EcoSport as well as the Everest and Transit for the Chinese domestic market.”

In short, Ford didn’t just randomly pick a JMC crossover and slap their own badge. This here is a properly engineered SUV; designed and engineered primarily for the Chinese market, sure, but it’s still a Ford through and through.

From a business standpoint this certainly makes sense. In this day and age of globalization, it’s important for carmakers to look beyond their country of origin. It must be remembered that while the carmaker did dabble in the so-called “One Ford” strategy some years back, things didn’t really pan out. The strategy revealed cracks when they realized that some products require a degree of localization to stay competitive.

It’s a beat that Japanese brands such as Toyota have marched to for quite some time, and it’s the reason why the 86 is a Subaru; the Wigo and Avanza, Daihatsus; and the Supra, a BMW underneath. It’s also the reason why Ford has entered into various joint-venture or technology partnerships be it with Volkswagen or Mahindra. Ford and its iconic Blue Oval badge may have whiffs of Americana, but it’s now a global citizen. The Territory is just further proof of that.

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