Wait?! A Ford bicycle? Well, kind of.
Let’s face it: our kids and grandkids will experience a different kind of mass transportation than we do. Autonomous technology, EVs, ride sharing – you name it; the future is coming faster than imagined, and global automakers are having to adapt. Business Insider recently scored some sit down time with Ford CEO, Mark Fields, and it’s clear the guy understands how transportation is changing. For starters, Ford is continuing its plans to invest $4.5 billion by 2020 into 13 new EVs, in addition to the already announced F-150 and Mustang hybrids.
“Our view of the industry, 15 years from now, is that there is going to be more electrified offerings than there are internal combustion engines,” Fields stated. “So we want to build a reputation around that, we want to build our brand resonance around that. We want to be a leader in this area.” In 2021, Ford claims it’ll have its first self-driving car ready for commercial use, but get this: it’ll operate without human intervention, classified as level-four autonomy. For example, the car won’t have a brake pedal, accelerator or a steering wheel. It won’t be a full-on EV, but a hybrid and will be part of a ride-sharing fleet. In other words, the so far unnamed model will be fleet only, not sold to individual customers.
Expect for the rollout to be in urban areas, at least initially. Because of this massive EV and fully-autonomous vehicle investment, Ford knows it’ll become a different kind of company than it is now. “Our business model over many years has been about how many of the vehicles did we sell,” Fields added. “Now, we are looking at the ecosystem around that and essentially it’s looking at services and revenue, it’s about looking beyond just the sale of the vehicle.” Remember, Ford recently announced its partnership with BMW, Daimler, and VW to construct a 400-unit charger network across Europe, competing directly against Tesla.
“For a lot of years our business model was all around being fun to drive, but now we've added a new element, being fun to ride,” Fields summarized. Ford will always be in the car building business, it’s just adding the holistic mobility element. Another example, Ford just established subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility specifically for investing in new transportation services. Heck, it even partnered with San Francisco-based bike-sharing company, Motivate. Ford’s in an experimental mood these days with Fields at the helm, so it’s fair to say we can fully expect to see Henry’s 113-year-old company continue to go beyond the now old-fashioned automaker business model.