Ford Transitions from Cars to "Mobility"

Excerpts from an article Adele Peters in Fast Company

Ford is looking toward an urban future where people use many modes to get around–and using the data from the bike share to help inform its vision for what those future cities might look like.

If you rent a bike from the Bay Area’s newly relaunched bike share program, you’ll notice a new logo: Ford. Now known as Ford GoBike, the system–which is expanding tenfold from 700 to 7,000 bicycles–is part of the car company’s effort to remake itself as a mobility company (technically, they’re calling themselves an “auto and mobility company”).

“Ford has offered a mobility solution for over 100 years, and it’s looked like an automobile,” says Jessica Robinson, director of Ford City Solutions, a team that focuses on new urban transportation options. “But we know that trend can’t continue.”

The company doesn’t plan to stop selling cars. But as urban populations grow–half of the people in the world already live in cities, and that number may grow to 60% by 2030–the company realized that other solutions make sense on crowded, polluted city streets.

Ford Smart Mobility, a new subsidiary designed to create and invest in new mobility services, launched in March 2016. By September, the company created its City Solutions team to work directly with cities to help make it easier for people to move. It also invested in Chariot, a shuttle service aimed at lower-income commuters (a $119 monthly pass equates to less than $3 a ride if used to and from work each day; other options include off-peak passes and individual rides with pricing that varies depending on demand).

Ford plans to study how the system works in different areas. “It really gives us a special chance to dig in deep in the city and focus on what that place’s specific mobility needs are, because certainly there are universal things, like congestion and air quality, but it’s different in every city,” Robinson says.

“We’re really trying to understand how people want to get around in cities not just today, but in the future.”

Read the full article in Fast Company

And to learn more, check out our interview with Dragos Maciuca, Technical Director, Ford Research and Innovation Center on their Silicon valley chapter.

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