October 12, 2015 / 3:57 AM / 2 years ago

Ford to invest $1.8 billion to expand R&D in China

Ford Taurus cars are seen during a presentation at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in Shanghai, April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) said on Monday it will invest 11.4 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) over the next five years to expand research and development in China, the latest effort by the U.S. carmaker to secure a larger slice of the world’s biggest auto market.

Ford has rapidly gained market share over the past few years at mainly the expense of Japanese rivals, helped by its efforts to incorporate Chinese consumer tastes in its cars sold in the country.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker is the fifth-biggest foreign automaker in China, after General Motors (GM.N), Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and Nissan Motor Co (7201.T).

Speaking at a corporate event in Shanghai, Chief Executive Mark Fields also said the company will introduce the C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid, and the Mondeo conventional hybrid to the China market next year.

“By 2020 we will offer customers in China a range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles,” he said.

Beijing has been trying to encourage the use of more electric vehicles to combat pollution, but progress has been slow mainly due to the lack of infrastructure.

($1 = 6.3303 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Writing by Kazunori Takada; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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