This is the year of the e-bike, and Ford’s plans to get around clogged city roads in­clude bi­cy­cles

Ford com­bines shut­tles, bikes and satel­lites into mo­bil­ity dur­ing peak hours

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

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

Ford is also es­tab­lish­ing a new City So­lu­tions team to work with cities around the world on their trans­porta­tion needs.

Ford pres­i­dent and CEO Mark Fields said in a state­ment: “Com­muters around the world are suf­fer­ing with in­creased con­ges­tion in cities, which could be al­le­vi­ated by de­vel­op­ing mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions fine-tuned to the unique chal­lenges of each lo­ca­tion.”

Jim Hackett, chair of Ford Smart Mo­bil­ity LLC, the com­pany’s sub­sidiary created to come up with emerg­ing mo­bil­ity ser­vices, said new forms of trans­porta­tion, from bikes to dy­namic shut­tles and more, were in­tro­duc­ing new cus­tomers to Ford and cre­at­ing new rev­enue and profit op­por­tu­ni­ties for the fu­ture.

San Fran just the start

Ford’s ac­qui­si­tion of Char­iot will serve as the cor­ner­stone for its new global shut­tle ser­vices busi­ness.

The shut­tle ser­vice is ex­pected to be ex­panded be­yond San Fran­cisco to at least five ad­di­tional mar­kets in the next 18 months.

Started in 2014, Char­iot op­er­ates nearly 100 Ford Tran­sit shut­tles along 28 routes through­out San Fran­cisco Bay Area.

To­day, Char­iot’s routes are crowd-sourced based on rider de­mand. In the fu­ture, they will op­er­ate dy­nam­i­cally — us­ing data al­go­rithms to map ef­fi­cient routes to best serve the real-time mo­bil­ity needs of com­mu­ni­ties.

The Char­iot shut­tles com­ple­ment mass tran­sit by fill­ing the gap be­tween taxi and bus ser­vices, pro­vid­ing an on-de­mand, point-to-point trans­porta­tion op­tion that is con­ve­nient, ef­fi­cient and cost-ef­fec­tive.

A pri­vate study for Ford con­ducted by KPMG shows one shut­tle work­ing in peak hour can take 25 cars off the road.

“Char­iot’s mis­sion from day one has been to solve the com­mute by pro­vid­ing a mass tran­sit so­lu­tion that is fast, re­li­able and af­ford­able for peo­ple liv­ing in to­day’s cities,” said Ali Va­habzadeh, Char­iot co-founder and CEO.

“We started our Char­iot ser­vice with Ford’s 15-pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles and con­tinue to use Ford Tran­sit shut­tles to this day.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be Ford Smart Mo­bil­ity’s first ac­qui­si­tion and lever­age its lead­er­ship in trans­porta­tion to ful­fil Char­iot’s goals world­wide.”

Bikes the miss­ing link

Bi­cy­cles are another im­por­tant mode of trans­porta­tion for com­muters in the Bay Area.

Ford and Mo­ti­vate, the global leader in bike share, are work­ing with city of­fi­cials to add new sta­tions and in­crease the num­ber of bikes to 7 000 in the Bay Area by the end of 2018.

When it launches next year, Ford GoBike will be ac­cessed by users through the FordPass plat­form. “A trans­porta­tion rev­o­lu­tion is com­ing to the Bay Area,” said Jay Walder, CEO of Mo­ti­vate. “This unique part­ner­ship with Ford shows that bike share is no longer al­ter­na­tive trans­porta­tion; it is cen­tral to cre­at­ing smart, on-de­mand mo­bil­ity that rep­re­sents our val­ues for eq­uity and sus­tain­abil­ity.

“Thanks to the part­ner­ship of Met­ro­pol­i­tan Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion, San Fran­cisco, San Jose, Oak­land, Berke­ley and Emeryville, bike share will soon be avail­able for all in the Bay Area.”

Ford plans to de­velop tech­nolo­gies to use data col­lected from the bikes to build an in­ter­con­nected mo­bil­ity net­work. This could in­clude real-time data, such as weather con­di­tions, us­age pat­terns and bike avail­abil­ity, to op­ti­mise com­mutes.

Ford also is es­tab­lish­ing its new City So­lu­tions team to work with cities on ex­pand­ing mo­bil­ity ser­vices world­wide as part of Ford Smart Mo­bil­ity LLC. John Kwant — who has worked with sev­eral global cities dur­ing his Ford ca­reer as part of the com­pany’s gov­ern­ment af­fairs and global strat­egy teams — has been tapped to lead the ef­fort as vice pres­i­dent of Ford City So­lu­tions.

The team will ad­dress the re­al­ity that each city’s trans­porta­tion ecosys­tem has evolved over time and poses a unique set of trans­porta­tion chal­lenges.

Through a joint dis­cov­ery process, Ford City So­lu­tions will work with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to pro­pose, pi­lot and de­velop mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions tai­lored to the com­mu­nity. Dis­cus­sions are al­ready un­der way with sev­eral global cities.

Ford plans to have 7 000 elec­tric Ford Go Bikes for com­muters to share in San Fran­cisco’s Bay Area in the next two years.

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