5/6/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

Ford Swaps Out Expatriate Execs in China

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Ford Motor Co. is replacing dozens of Western executives in China with local marketing experts in a bid to cut costs and gain more local marketing knowledge.

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Ford Motor Co. is replacing dozens of Western executives in China with local marketing experts in a bid to cut costs and gain more local marketing knowledge.

The move is prompted in part by the desire to lower the high cost of maintaining large numbers of largely American executives in China, sources tell the Financial Times. Observers add that the greater reliance on local talent also signals a stronger Ford commitment to the Chinese market.

Last year, Ford sales in China plummeted 37%, and the company reported a $1.7 billion loss there, FT reports. The newspaper adds that sales by Ford’s largest China venture—with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co.—plunged 54% and slashed plant utilization by the partnership to less than 30%.

The staffing overhaul is being led by Anning Chen (pictured), who was hired away from Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. in November to head Ford operations in China. At the same time, Ford restructured its operations in the country to make it a separate business unit that reports directly to headquarters in Michigan.

Chen succeeded Jason Luo, who quit as head of Ford China less than six months after taking the job. Chen has been setting up a new leadership team in the country since December. “We’ve got to have people who know what’s best in China,” he told reporters in April.