Ford to de­velop Uber com­peti­tor

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

FORD wants to de­velop ride hail­ing ser­vices that could com­pete with ex­ist­ing providers such as Uber or Lyft, the com­pany’s head of re­search an­nounced re­cently.

“Our vi­sion is to be a mo­bil­ity ser­vice provider, be­yond build­ing a ve­hi­cle that would be in some­body else’s fleet,” said Ken Wash­ing­ton, Ford’s vice pres­i­dent of re­search. “We see this as a busi­ness we want to be in.”

Wash­ing­ton spoke at a me­dia event at which Ford un­veiled a pi­lot pro­gramme that will al­low employees work­ing at the com­pany’s Dear­born, Michi­gan, oper­a­tions to use smart­phone apps to hail rides from one build­ing to an­other in spe­cially de­signed Ford Tran­sit vans.

Ford ear­lier this year out­lined a se­ries of moves to ex­pand be­yond man­u­fac­tur­ing cars and trucks. The au­tomaker, like es­tab­lished ri­vals Gen­eral Mo­tors or Daim­ler, is un­der pres­sure from in­vestors to demon­strate that it can sur­vive at­tacks on its busi­ness model from ride- hail­ing up­starts such as Uber, or elec­tric ve­hi­cle pioneer Tesla Mo­tors. Wash­ing­ton said Ford expects within four years to field a ve­hi­cle that can drive it­self with the driver “fully out of the loop”.

How­ever, he qual­i­fied that by say­ing the ve­hi­cle could op­er­ate on its own in the right weather con­di­tions, as au­tomak­ers still worry about sen­sors not work­ing prop­erly in snow or rain.

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