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Ford forms new Smart Mobility subsidiary to develop and to invest in mobility services

Ford Motor Company has created a new subsidiary—Ford Smart Mobility LLC—to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services. The new subsidiary will have operations in Palo Alto, California, and Dearborn, Michigan. Jim Hackett, former Steelcase vice chairman and CEO, is leaving his position on the Ford Board of Directors to serve as chairman of the new subsidiary.

Ford Smart Mobility LLC is part of Ford’s expanded business model to be both an auto and a mobility company. (Earlier post.) The company is continuing to focus on and investing in its core business—designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing cars, SUVs, trucks and electrified vehicles. At the same time, Ford aggressively is pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics. (Earlier post.)

Ford Smart Mobility and expanding into mobility services are significant growth opportunities. Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue. Jim Hackett is the right visionary leader—with extensive experience in business development and design—to take us into the mobility services business in the future.

—Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company

The new Ford Smart Mobility LLC will build on the products, technologies and Ford Smart Mobility innovations and work already under way at Ford Motor Company. Working with Ford’s existing product development, research and advanced engineering, marketing and data analytics teams—which will remain unchanged—the subsidiary will develop commercially ready mobility services and invest in promising mobility-related ventures.

Designed to compete like a startup company, Ford Smart Mobility LLC will design and build mobility services on its own, and collaborate with start-ups and tech companies.

Reporting to Mark Fields, Hackett, as chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, will lead a team of business and technology leaders from inside and outside the company.

Ford Smart Mobility. Ford Smart Mobility, announced in 2015, is the company’s plan to deliver the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data; the initial stage was the creation of 25 mobility experiments across the globe.

Ford says it has made significant progress already, including:

  • Vehicle connectivity.This year, an all-new, more intuitive SYNC 3 entertainment and communications system is being offered on Ford and Lincoln vehicles. In addition, new SYNC Connect gives owners the ability to remotely access vehicle features, including a remote start, unlocking doors, checking fuel level or locating a parked vehicle on a smartphone. Additionally, SYNC includes AppLink, which enables drivers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver’s seat.

  • Mobility. For the past 14 months, Ford has conducted more than 30 global mobility experiments to gain insight into changing consumer transportation preferences. Several ongoing pilot programs are under way, including: GoPark, which builds a predictive parking system in London capable of directing drivers to streets where they are most likely to find a space; GoDrive, a car sharing program in London that provides vehicles with guaranteed parking at busy locations, such as London City Airport; and Dynamic Shuttle, a program at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan, campus that allows employees and visitors to summon point-to-point rides on-demand.

  • Autonomous vehicles. Ford says that this year it will have the largest test fleet of autonomous vehicles of any automaker, with vehicles on the road in California, Arizona and Michigan. Ford also is the first to test autonomous vehicles in the snow. (Earlier post.) At the same time, Ford is tripling its engineering investment in driver assist and semi-autonomous vehicle technology—such as adaptive cruise control, active park assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping aid, pedestrian detection, Pro Trailer Backup Assist and vehicle-to-vehicle connection technology—during the next five years.

  • Consumer experience. Ford this year is introducing FordPass (earlier post)—a free digital, physical and personal platform that offers four benefits for members: a Marketplace with mobility services, such as parking and sharing; FordGuides to help consumers move more efficiently; Appreciation for members to receive recognition for their loyalty; and FordHubs, where consumers can experience Ford’s latest innovations. The first hub opens later this year in New York City.

  • Data and analytics. To better anticipate customer wants and needs, Ford is increasing funding for data science and analytics research as the foundation of the Ford Smart Mobility plan. One example is Ford and IBM collaborating on a pilot platform that allows research scientists to look at tiny pieces of data—10 or 15 seconds at a time—to spot patterns, correlations and trends, and write code to make more efficient transportation decisions to support the company’s Dynamic Shuttle experiment.


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