Ford to develop Uber competitor
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.