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Ford is investing $1.4 billion in its first plant in China to make a range of electric cars, a move that could lead to the country’s rapid expansion of the global auto industry.
The automaker announced the investment Monday in an annual report on its global car manufacturing efforts.
Ford CEO Mark Fields said the investment is expected to create 50 new jobs and boost the U.S. auto industry by more than $4 billion over the next 10 years.
The investment is part of Ford’s broader push to build electric cars that will be sold in the U, Europe and other markets around the world.
The automaker already sells the Fusion Hybrid and Expedition hybrid vehicles in China, where it plans to launch its new vehicle in 2018.
“This investment will enable us to accelerate our electric car strategy by building a new manufacturing facility in China that will make a variety of electric vehicle models in China,” Fields said in a statement.
“This will create more than 500 jobs in this country and help our global auto production base expand even faster than we are seeing today.”
The investment comes as automakers are gearing up to introduce a variety in the electric vehicle market, including a new version of the Nissan Leaf, an electric vehicle that is not yet on the market.
Fields said Ford would also make a hybrid version of its Escape SUV and a crossover SUV that will not be on the road until 2021.
The investments are part of the automaker’s broader drive to develop an electric-car manufacturing plant in Asia, where Ford has said it hopes to have a 100% electric vehicle production by 2026.
It is one of several U.K. car makers to invest in China this year.
The announcement comes just two weeks after the British government said it is working with Ford to secure a 50-year lease of a $1-billion plant in the country.
Fields told reporters Monday the British Government would provide incentives to secure the lease if the company were to meet certain production and service standards.
The U.N. agency said it was concerned about a range-extension test program that could threaten the safety of electric vehicles and other electric vehicles.