2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is on display at the 108th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on Feb. 12, 2016.
Photograph by Raymond Boyd—Getty Images
By Jonathan Chew
April 22, 2016

Ford is bringing a version of its hugely popular F-150 pickup truck into China next year.

The F-150 Raptor—an off-road, souped-up version of the company’s best-selling model—is expected to retail at a starting price of around $50,000, according to ABC, although Chinese buyers will probably have extra import duties tagged on the final price-tag. The F-150 Raptor is set to be displayed at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition opening Monday.

“By introducing it to the world’s largest auto market, we hope to inspire a new generation of off-road enthusiasts, and demonstrate how we are always bringing our customers new innovations,” said John Lawler, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor China, in a statement on Friday.

This marks the debut of the F-series in China, and is the first full-size American pickup to be officially introduced into the country, reported The Verge. The word “officially” is key, as the Raptor has actually been reportedly selling on the country’s gray market for around three times the U.S. retail price.

Larger vehicles like SUVs have been seeing rising demand in the country—sales of SUVs increased 51% in the first quarter of this year from the previous year—and trucks like the F-150 could appeal to consumers looking for more sturdier, premium vehicles. “I can only imagine the reaction that it gets in China,” Karl Brauer, automotive industry analyst for Kelley Blue Book, told The Verge.

However, China has long had a fractious relationship with pickups, as the vehicles are barred from entering urban cities without a permit from local governments. This means that pickups make up just 3% of vehicles sold in the nation, reported the Wall Street Journal, a damper considering China has the largest auto market in the world.

Ford’s (f) entrance could mean the company thinks those traffic control restrictions might be loosened soon, and Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight, told Reuters the company might be timing its launch with the future in mind.

“If those traffic rules are relaxed significantly, the market could quickly grow to a million vehicles a year or significantly more,” he said.

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