The new partnership was signed in a letter of intent between Hackett and Daniel Zhang, President and CEO of the Alibaba Group, at the Chinese firm's headquarters in Hangzhou.
A source also indicated that Alibaba may consider a "vending machine" style approach to selling cars.
Executive chairman William C. Ford Jr. was even more direct in his assessment of the importance of China.
Alibaba spokeswoman Crystal Liu declined to comment.
The deal will likely see cars purchased online being delivered to buyers by franchised Ford retail stores.
Earlier this year, Alibaba's retail arm Tmall announced the development of a auto vending machine, in which consumers can use their phone to browse through cars stored in a tall windowed building and have the vehicle brought down to street level via elevator lifts.
The cars could come directly from Ford or from its dealer network - the details are still being worked out, Reuters reported.
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Cars would be housed in and picked up from a multi-story parking garage resembling a giant vending machine, but consumers can "browse" options on their smartphones before testing them on site and buying, according to Reuters. Ford's sales volume in China has been moving at a slow pace in the recent months as they struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing trends on the market including the increasing demand for entry-level vehicles, especially in small towns and cities.
The model allows shoppers with good credit to purchase their new ride with a 10 per cent down payment and then make monthly payments for the vehicle purchase through Alibaba's affiliate Alipay, according to Alibaba. China's Ford dealers would still get to service cars sold through Tmall.
The move, though, could be potentially problematic for dealers, some industry experts said.
"When online sales and direct sales volume was small that's one thing".
The danger is that the dealers lose out not only on a lot of vehicle sales but also the potentially lucrative auto financing aspect of their traditional business.
Should Ford choose to provide the cars directly to Alibaba, the deal could anger dealers who are losing out both on potential auto sales as well as the financing behind it.