Ford is teaming up with major global cities, starting with San Francisco, to solve congestion issues and help people move more easily.
The company has acquired Chariot, a San Francisco-based crowd-sourced shuttle service—and is collaborating with bike-sharing provider Motivate—to expand its transportation solutions in city centers. Ford also is establishing a new City Solutions team to work with cities around the world on their transportation needs.
“We’re expanding our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, and partnering with cities on current and future transportation needs is the next major step,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “We want to work with communities to offer even more transportation choices and solutions for people – for decades to come.”
Half the world’s population lives in cities. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to 60 percent.
“Cities globally are dealing with increased congestion, a growing middle class and environmental issues – all of which can be alleviated by developing mobility solutions fine-tuned to the unique challenges of each location,” said Jim Hackett, chairman, Ford Smart Mobility LLC, the company’s subsidiary created to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services. “At the same time, by expanding our business model to include new forms of transportation – from bikes to dynamic shuttles and more – we are introducing new customers to Ford and creating new revenue and profit opportunities for the future.”
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, Ford says, using data algorithms to map efficient routes to best serve the real-time mobility needs of communities.
“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 cofounder 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 fulfill Chariot’s goals worldwide.”
Ford and Motivate 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.
Ford plans to develop technologies to use data collected from the bikes to build an interconnected mobility network.
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. The team will address the reality that each city’s transportation ecosystem has evolved over time and poses a unique set of transportation challenges.