Electrifying! Ford’s global plan to get masses mobile

• Major automaker to tackle city congestion issues
• Ford Smart Mobility to acquire shuttle service
• First target for GoBikes will be San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, California – Ford is teaming up with major global cities – starting with San Francisco – to solve congestion issues and help people move around more easily.

The automaker has announced an agreement to acquire Chariot, a San Francisco-based crowd-sourced shuttle service, and a collaboration with bike-sharing provider Motivate to expand its transport solutions in city centres.

Ford will also establish a City Solutions team to work with cities around the world to ease their transport needs.

PERSONAL TRANSPORT ALTERNATIVES NEEDED’

“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,” said

Mark Fields, Ford’s president and CEO, explained that for more than 100 years his company had been part of the community and a trusted source for automotive transportation. “Now we want to work with communities to offer more personal-transport choices for decades to come.”

Half of humanity (2016) lives in cities. By 2030 that number is expected to grow by 60%. As city populations grow the challenges tied to moving people and goods become more difficult. Ford says it is committed to being part of the solution.

Ford’s Jim Hackett added: “Globally, cities are becoming increasing congested, have a growing middle class, and environmental issues but each can be addressed by developing mobility solutions tuned to the challenges of each location.

“At the same time, by expanding our business model to include new types of transport – bikes to dynamic shuttles, for instance – we’re introducing new customers to Ford and creating new revenue and profit opportunities.”

SHUTTLES COMPLEMENT MASS-TRANSIT

Ford’s acquisition of Chariot Is expected to serve as the cornerstone for its new global-shuttle services and to expand beyond San Francisco to at least five more markets by the end of 2017.

Chariot, started in 2014, operates nearly 100 Ford Transit shuttles along 28 routes throughout the San Francisco Bay area. The routes are crowd-sourced based on rider demand. In future they will operate dynamically by using data algorithms to map efficient routes to best serve the mobility needs of communities.

Its shuttles complement mass-transit by filling the gap between taxi and bus services, providing on-demand, point-to-point, transport that’s convenient, efficient and cost-effective. “For every dynamic shuttle placed into service during peak travel times,” according to a private study conducted by KPMG, “urban congestion could be reduced by 25 vehicles.”

FORD TRANSITS BACKBONE OF SYSTEM

Ali Vahabzadeh, Chariot’s co-founder and CEO, told The Corner in a media release: “Our mission from day one has been to solve the commute by providing a mass-transit solution that’s fast, reliable and affordable.

“We started our service with 15-passenger Fords and still use Ford Transit shuttles to this day. We’re thrilled to be Ford Smart Mobility’s first acquisition to help fulfill Chariot’s goals worldwide.”

Bikes are also seen as important for commuters. Ford and Motivate, said to be the global leader in bike sharing, are working with city officials to add stations and increase to 7000 the number of bikes in the Bay Area by the end of 2018.

Ford plans to develop technologies to use data collected from the bikes to build an inter-connected mobility network. This could include real-time data – weather, usage, bike availability – to optimise commutes.

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