Ford continues its evolution from carmaker to mobility firm
Ford has announced the acquisition of crowd-sourced shuttle service Chariot, a collaboration with bike-sharing provider Motivate, and plans to establish a new team that will work with cities around the world to help people get around more easily. All are part of its ongoing move towards mobility.
"We're expanding our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, and partnering with cities on current and future transportation needs is the next major step," explains company president and CEO Mark Fields.
Ford's move towards mobility is based partly on its expectation that the proportion of the world's population living in cities will grow from around 50 percent today to around 60 percent by 2030. The company says such a rise would cause increased congestion, a growing middle class and environmental issues. Ford sees the development of new forms of transportation and new mobility services as a means of tackling such issues, while also creating new revenue and profit opportunities.
San Francisco-based Chariot currently operates nearly 100 Ford Transit shuttles along 28 routes throughout the Bay Area, which are crowd-sourced based on rider demand. Ford sees its acquisition of the outfit as the basis for a new global shuttle services business that will ultimately use algorithms to plan efficient routes. It expects to expand Chariot beyond San Francisco to at least five new markets within a year-and-a-half.
In its collaboration with Motivate, Ford is working with San Francisco city officials to roll out a new bike-share scheme called Ford GoBike, users of which will be able to access the service via the FordPass platform. The scheme will see new bike-share stations installed and the number of bikes available in the Bay Area increased to 7,000 by the end of 2018. Ford also hopes to collect data from the bikes, such as weather conditions, usage patterns and bike availability, which could then be fed into an "interconnected mobility network."
San Francisco is the first city with which Ford's newly created City Solutions team is working to help increase residents' access to mobility services. Indeed, discussions are already said to be under way with several other cities around the world.