It’s possibly an apocryphal anecdote, but Henry Ford, industrialist and father of the assembly line technique of mass production, once said that before developing his first motor car; “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
It was the Model T the man from Michigan ultimately delivered to the world in what amounted to a transport revolution, but now there is a change again – and the Ford Motor Company is making the move to accelerate the delivery of mobility products and services to it to personal vehicle owners, fleet owners and cities globally.
As outlined at the giant 2018 CES show in Las Vegas, Ford’s mobility strategy is to deliver a broad suite of products and services that enhance all layers of the transportation system, yes including vehicles but also infrastructure, connectivity and digital services – to alleviate transportation challenges in cities and help people move more freely in what the folks at Ford think will be the city of tomorrow.
“We believe transportation done right – as part of a systems approach – can bring life back to our cities,” said Marcy Klevorn ( @MarcyKlevorn ) , president, Ford Mobility. “By accelerating our delivery of mobility services through the changes we are making today, we are enabling that revival, enhancing our competitiveness and creating long-term value for Ford shareholders.”
This year, Ford expects to accelerate and launch businesses in the following areas:
- Transportation operating system: The company’s open, cloud-based platform – the Transportation Mobility Cloud that manages information flow and basic transactions between a variety of components in the transportation ecosystem – will be expanded beyond Ford to include other automakers, suppliers, partners and cities; a developer network to build and support the system also will be launched.
- Connectivity: Preparing to deliver digital services to personal, fleet and city customers, Ford’s mobility team will deliver on the company’s commitment of 100 percent connectivity of new vehicles in the United States by 2019 and push toward its goal of 90 percent connectivity globally by 2020.
- Ride sharing: Chariot, the cornerstone of Ford’s microtransit solutions, will see an acceleration of city launches globally this year; launches will be based on a major shift in focus to the unit’s enterprise business, which provides employee transportation services for businesses. Just last week, Ford announced the launch of service in Columbus, Ohio – Chariot’s fifth city.
- Non-emergency medical transportation: Tapping into the growing healthcare transportation market, Ford Mobility will expand its non-emergency medical transportation operation from a Southeast Michigan pilot with Beaumont Health into a full business serving multiple medical systems.
- Vehicle Management as a Service: Founded in 2017, Ford Commercial Solutions is leveraging vehicle connectivity to deliver data services and fleet optimization to the commercial segment, building on the automaker’s historical strength in serving fleet customers. Ford Commercial Solutions will expand its offerings globally this year.
To support this shift to innovation and delivery at speed, the company announced an agreement to acquire Autonomic, a Palo Alto, California-based technology company that specializes in scale, architecture and leverage for transportation industry solutions.
Ford’s acquisition of Autonomic will accelerate the automaker’s mission to establish the Transportation Mobility Cloud platform and support its plans to scale up other key mobility initiatives, including the drive toward full connectivity, Chariot and non-emergency medical transportation. In addition to being able to fully capture the value created by this platform, Ford also will benefit from the Autonomic team’s capabilities in creating and incubating new mobility businesses, as well as relationships that will further improve Ford’s access to top technology talent.
Ford also is announcing the acquisition of TransLoc ( @TransLoc ) , a Durham, North Carolina-based provider of demand-response technology for city-owned microtransit solutions, featured before on our pages - TransLoc and Google collaborate to deliver free transit information on Google Maps.
Acquiring TransLoc allows Ford to leverage its operational expertise, network of city relationships, and proven track record of providing solutions to cities globally that can improve the rider experience with dynamic routing.
“As we deliver on our commitment to provide solutions for cities’ transportation challenges, an important part of our process is to determine whether to build, buy or partner the capabilities required,” said Klevorn. “We believe the integration of the technology and talent from Autonomic and TransLoc into our Mobility team will further bolster our ability to deliver robust solutions for personal owners, fleet operators and cities, with speed and at scale.”
Chariots of London.
Further progess with Mobility as a Service from Ford, came this week with them having their plans to operate its Chariot (@chariot ) minibus services approved in London. Chariot will be able to operate its pre-bookable only services in Britain’s capital city for a year on three routes and nine months on a fourth route on a trial basis.
“This service has the potential to provide useful transport links in the areas they will serve, largely outside central London, and we will carefully monitor this trial,” said a spokesman at Transport for London (TfL).
The firm’s proposed routes in London include areas south of the River Thames which are not close to underground stations including near the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and the Abbye Wood Elizabeth Line development. It'll cost £2.40 per trip, according to The Guardian — compared to £1.50 for a regular bus trip.
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