SHANGHAI: Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has formed a strategic three-year partnership with Ford, which could see the American automaker sell cars on Alibaba’s Tmall online marketplace.

As part of the agreement, Ford will work with four of Alibaba’s business units to identify potential opportunities that align with Alibaba’s “New Retail” concept of combining online and offline shopping.

As reported by Alizila, a news portal owned by Alibaba, Ford will get involved with Alibaba’s operating system developer AliOS, Alibaba Cloud, its cloud-computing platform, Alimama, its digital marketing unit, as well as Tmall.

“Alibaba is excited to redefine the consumer journey and user experience for automobiles together with Ford Motor Group,” said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group.

“Our data-driven technology and platform will expand the definition of car ownership beyond just having a mode of transportation and into a new medium for a smart lifestyle,” he added.

Also commenting on the deal, Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett described China as “one of the world’s largest and most dynamic digital markets, thriving on innovation, with customers’ online and offline experiences converging rapidly”.

He said that collaborating with leading technology players is in line with Ford’s vision “for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionise consumers’ mobility experiences”.

The development comes just a couple of days after Hackett attended an event in Shanghai to announce plans to launch 50 new vehicles in China by 2025, including eight new SUVs and at least 15 electrified vehicles from the Ford and Lincoln marques.

The company also plans to start assembling five more vehicles in China in 2019, and aims for all new vehicles in the country to be internet-connected by the end of that year.

“We are responding to the rapid pace of change by delivering increased connectivity and working to improve and simplify mobility for everyone,” Hackett said. “This builds on our commitment to deliver smart vehicles for a smart world, helping people around the world move more safely, confidently and freely.”

Sourced from Alizila, Ford; additional content by WARC staff