On the heels of an quarterly report marked by an underwhelming profit, and amid a general “lack of fitness” according to CFO Bob Shanks, Ford Motor announced that it is accelerating and expanding its activities in 2018 to deliver a broad suite of mobility products and services to personal vehicle owners, fleet owners and cities globally.
As part of this acceleration, Ford’s mobility unit’s subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC is acquiring Autonomic, a technology company that specializes in scale, architecture and leverage for transportation solutions. Autonomic CEO Sunny Madra will be leader of its new Ford X team. Ford also announced the acquisition of TransLoc, a provider of demand-response technology for city-owned microtransit solutions.
Ford’s acquisition of Autonomic will accelerate the automaker’s mission to establish the Transportation Mobility Cloud platform and support its plans to scale up other key mobility initiatives, including the drive toward full connectivity, Chariot and non-emergency medical transportation.
In addition to being able to fully capture the value created by this platform, Ford also will benefit from the Autonomic team’s capabilities in creating and incubating new mobility businesses, as well as relationships that will further improve Ford’s access to top technology talent.
Acquiring TransLoc allows Ford to leverage its operational expertise, network of city relationships, and proven track record of providing solutions to cities globally that can improve the rider experience with dynamic routing.
The terms of these acquisitions are not being disclosed.
Mobility solutions. Ford is also reorganization of the teams developing and scaling mobility solutions. The reorganization will establish four new groups focused on mobility products, services and businesses. The new groups are:
Ford X: Ford’s acquisition of Autonomic will serve as the cornerstone for its new Ford X team. Part of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, this team will have responsibility for ensuring Ford is continuously discovering and actively incubating new business models. To support this mission, Ford X will oversee the Transportation Mobility Cloud platform; the Ford X Accelerator, a new group dedicated to quick incubation of potential products and services; and new mobility businesses early in their development.
Mobility Business Group: With responsibility for scaling the company’s existing mobility businesses, Ford Smart Mobility LLC’s new Mobility Business Group will oversee Ford Commercial Solutions; Ford’s microtransit businesses including Chariot and the non-emergency medical transportation unit; FordPass and digital services, including those supporting autonomous vehicle businesses, in-vehicle services and personal vehicle ownership; and future businesses once they mature following their incubation within Ford X.
Mobility Platforms and Products: Ford Mobility’s product solutions group will lead design and development for the technology underpinning Ford’s mobility businesses, including connectivity, FordPass platform elements, vehicle management as a service, transportation as a service, its autonomous vehicle partnership platform and foundational platforms.
Mobility Marketing and Growth: To drive demand with consumers and commercial and city customers, and to ensure the voice of the customer is heard throughout the organization, Ford Smart Mobility LLC is establishing a global marketing and sales team. This group brings together Ford’s City Solutions team, its regional Ford Smart Mobility leads, TransLoc, and related marketing and sales talent into one organization.
These new teams will benefit from Ford’s ongoing investment in and work with cloud-based software development company Pivotal. (Earlier post.) They will also benefit from learnings from the 2017 implementation of product teams, a structure common in software companies and used in FordLabs—the automaker’s four software development and implementation operations in the United States, the United Kingdom and India.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett has described a fitness plan for the company that entails $14 billion in cuts in spending on materials and engineering over the next five years. The company will kill off poorly performing car models and offer fewer iterations of surviving models.
Ford has already warned that rising materials prices (steel, aluminum, etc.) will hobble its performance again this year.
Ford is counting on its mobility services businesses to provide some uplift.
By accelerating our delivery of mobility services through the changes we are making today, we are … enhancing our competitiveness and creating long-term value for Ford shareholders.—Marcy Klevorn, president, Ford Mobility
This year, Ford expects to accelerate and launch businesses in the following areas:
Transportation operating system: The company’s open, cloud-based platform—the Transportation Mobility Cloud that manages information flow and basic transactions between a variety of components in the transportation ecosystem—will be expanded beyond Ford to include other automakers, suppliers, partners and cities; a developer network to build and support the system also will be launched.
Connectivity: Preparing to deliver digital services to personal, fleet and city customers, Ford’s mobility team will deliver on the company’s commitment of 100% connectivity of new vehicles in the United States by 2019 and push toward its goal of 90% connectivity globally by 2020.
Ride sharing: Chariot, the cornerstone of Ford’s microtransit solutions, will see an acceleration of city launches globally this year; launches will be based on a major shift in focus to the unit’s enterprise business, which provides employee transportation services for businesses. Last week, Ford announced the launch of service in Columbus, Ohio—Chariot’s fifth city.
Non-emergency medical transportation: Tapping into the growing healthcare transportation market, Ford Mobility will expand its non-emergency medical transportation operation from a Southeast Michigan pilot with Beaumont Health into a full business serving multiple medical systems.
Vehicle Management as a Service: Founded in 2017, Ford Commercial Solutions is leveraging vehicle connectivity to deliver data services and fleet optimization to the commercial segment, building on the automaker’s historical strength in serving fleet customers. Ford Commercial Solutions will expand its offerings globally this year.