In the latest sign that Ford Motor Co. is trying to strengthen its presence in the world's biggest car market, the company has announced its first proving ground in China.
The 163-acre Nanjing Test Center will have 80 types of road surface conditions, a test track and an emissions testing facility.
"This investment makes sense," said Dave Sullivan, product analysis manager at AutoPacific Inc. "If anything, this shows Ford is lagging behind rivals in China but that they believe China is a long-term play."
In October, Ford sales in China fell to 105,809 vehicles from the comparable month in 2016. Ford also reported a 5 percent drop in year-to-date sales in China to 938,570 vehicles from 2016 to 2017.
Ford plans to test compact and full-size passenger cars, SUVs and lightweight commercial vehicles at the site north of Shanghai.
"It will also reduce our need to send prototypes abroad, saving time and money in the product development process," Trevor Worthington, vice president of the Asia Pacific product development for Ford, said in a statement.
The $103 million project is part of an overall $197 million investment at Ford's 2,000-employee research and engineering center in Nanjing.
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