In a move that is sure to make President Trump happy, Ford is shipping a boatload (really) of F-150 Raptor pickup trucks. They will be the first Ford pickups to officially be sold in the country, and company reps are very excited to be sending American-made trucks over to China instead of the other way around.
The 2017 F-150 Raptor has a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine under the hood, putting out 450 horsepower, 510 lb-ft of torque. It’s a truck that makes a statement, especially in China, where full-size pickups are a relative rarity. The goal is to “bring a new group of enthusiasts into the Ford family,” said Ford exec Joe Hinrichs in a statement.
Thanks largely to a burgeoning economy in the last decade, China has developed a taste for premium vehicles and American products. The Raptor is both. "Raptor, while not being a 'premium' brand, it's a high-end truck," says Karl Brauer, automotive industry analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "I can only imagine the reaction that it gets in China. A big, imposing-looking truck that happens to back it up with real ability over any kind of road or non-road surface."
It's likely that Ford intends to use the Raptor, maybe the most quintessentially American vehicle the company sells, as a halo car in China. They can advertise it heavily and bring a new kind of attitude to the brand. If it sells in any sort of volume, it could be a good testbed for whether more standard F-150 pickup trucks might sell in the country.
"They don't just send a truck. They send the truck," says Brauer. "The most aggressive and powerful of their global sales leader. That's their beachhead for truck sales in China." It doesn’t seem like even Ford knows how popular the F-150 Raptor will be — none of these trucks are actually sold yet, and pricing has yet to be finalized — but I think Chinese buyers will be interested in hitting the Raptor’s “Baja button” all the same.