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
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.