- Ford announces Ford Smart Mobility plan to use innovation to take company to next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data
- 25 global mobility experiments launched this year to test new ideas and address growing or increasing transportation challenges; insights gained will shape Ford’s future investments
- During a keynote address at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields announces the experiments include seven projects for Europe
- London-based programs include “City Driving On-Demand,” “Data Driven Insurance,” “Dynamic Social Shuttle,” and “Painless Parking.” Germany-based “Ford Carsharing” program has expanded to more than 50 German cities
COLOGNE, Germany, Jan. 7, 2015 – Ford at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show highlighted how it is using innovation not only to create advanced new vehicles but also to help change the way the world moves by solving today’s growing global transportation challenges.
The company announced its Ford Smart Mobility plan to foster innovation to take it to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. Ford also announced 25 mobility experiments around the world this year to test transportation ideas to create better customer experiences, more flexible user-ship models and social collaboration that can reward customers.
“Even as we showcase connected cars and share our plans for autonomous vehicles, we are here at CES with a higher purpose,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, delivering a keynote address at the global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow in Las Vegas. “We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company – and, ultimately, to change the way the world moves just as our founder Henry Ford did 111 years ago.”
25 global mobility experiments
The first steps for Ford Smart Mobility are 25 experiments – nine in Europe and Africa, eight in North America, seven in Asia and one in South America. Each experiment is designed to anticipate what customers will want and need in tomorrow’s transportation ecosystem.
“We see a world where vehicles talk to one another, drivers and vehicles communicate with the city infrastructure to relieve congestion and people routinely share vehicles or multiple forms of transportation for their daily commute,” Fields said. “The experiments we’re undertaking today will lead to an all-new model of transportation and mobility within the next 10 years and beyond.”
The 25 experiments address four global megatrends – explosive population growth, an expanding middle class, air quality and public health concerns, and changing customer attitudes and priorities – challenging today’s transportation model and limiting personal mobility, especially in urban areas.
Fourteen of the 25 experiments are Ford-led research projects and 11 are part of the company’s Innovate Mobility Challenge Series.
London will be the site of several Ford pilot projects that will test different ways of alleviating congestion in dense urban areas, including car-sharing, parking, and shuttle service projects.
Ford also announced the expansion of its car-sharing program in Germany. The venture with the German Ford dealers association, FHD GmbH, and DB Rent, the company behind Flinkster car-sharing, is the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide car-sharing scheme incorporating dealerships.
“At Ford, we are open to smarter ways of keeping the world moving freely, for the benefit and progress of all. Changing the way we think, collaborate and behave is essential to ensuring freedom of movement of both people and economies,” said Barb Samardzich, chief operating officer, Ford of Europe. “It is very unlikely there is a single one-size-fits-all solution to mobility issues. Right now, we’re at the research phase – testing and refining projects so that we can find out what works, and develop smarter ways of ensuring freedom of movement for all.”
The London-based research experiments are:
- City Driving On-Demand: Designed to help understand what is needed for a high-quality, more flexible, and integrated car-sharing scheme, which fits the needs of commuters in major urban areas. Currently in a pilot user test phase, zero-emission Focus Electric and fuel-efficient, low-emission Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost cars are reserved via an app or call centre. They are unlocked through a smartphone app or membership card, and can be accessed 24/7. Pricing is per minute, with fuel, insurance and the city’s Congestion Charge included
- Data Driven Insurance: This will involve monitoring individual vehicle use with the potential to create a personalised insurance quote and reduce insurance costs. A smartphone app enables users to remotely check the location of their vehicle, fuel levels, and other vehicle conditions that add further value to the customer. The data gathered also could help identify potential congestion and help authorities improve traffic flow
- Dynamic Social Shuttle: A new on-demand vehicle ride service offering one-way point-to-point journeys. More convenient than a bus, and better value than a taxi, the pay-as-you-go, shared service is designed to be both cost-effective and efficient
- Painless Parking: Developed with a local authority, this new smartphone app service can assist drivers in finding a suitable parking space based on their profile preferences, the real-time parking situation in their target locale, and their GPS location
In a Ford-sponsored poll, 56 per cent of Europeans said they would consider car-sharing.* Research also has shown that one car-share vehicle can replace as many as 13 other vehicles on the road,** and according to the European Commission, congestion within the European Union costs around €100 billion per year.***
Car-sharing in Germany
In its first 12 months, the expanding Ford Carsharing program has grown to include 55 German cities and more than 100 locations, including small towns and villages. Customers register at a Ford dealer after which they can make a booking via a smartphone app, website, or by phone. As well as Ford vehicles ranging from Ka to Transit, customers also have access to Flinkster’s 3,600 vehicles. In recent months, bookings have doubled compared with the first half-year average.
With the Innovate Mobility Challenge Series, Ford invited innovators and developers around the world to create solutions for specific mobility challenges in England, Portugal, North America and South America, Africa, India, China, England and Australia. More than 100 developers entered the first Traffic Tamer App Challenge, held in London, and won by AppyParking for a service enabling drivers to view parking maps, pay city congestion charge, and find electric vehicle charging stations.
“These research projects underline Ford’s commitment to innovation and progress that extends beyond the vehicles we produce,” said Erica Klampfl, global future mobility manager, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “We are investing in research, relationships, technology, and new business model development to provide safe, affordable transportation, which also addresses congestion problems, and may lower emissions and reduce overly-long commutes.”
Ford autonomous vehicles
Ford also highlighted the semi-autonomous vehicles it has on the road today and fully autonomous vehicles now in development for the future.
“We’re already manufacturing and selling semi-autonomous vehicles that use software and sensors to steer into both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces, adjust speed based on traffic flow or apply the brakes in an emergency,” said Raj Nair, Ford chief technical officer and group vice president, Global Product Development. “There will be a Ford autonomous vehicle in the future, and we take putting one on the road very seriously.”
Ford’s semi-autonomous vehicle features available today include lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and active park assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, rearview camera, auto high beams and rain-sensing wipers – with Traffic Jam Assist coming.
A fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle is undergoing road testing. The vehicle uses the same semi-autonomous technology in Ford vehicles today, while adding four LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment.
The vehicle can sense objects around it using the LiDAR sensors, and uses advanced algorithms to help it learn to predict where vehicles and pedestrians might move.
“Our priority is not in making marketing claims or being in a race for the first autonomous car on the road,” Fields said. “Our priority is in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses and truly enhancing customers’ lives.
“Henry Ford taught us long ago that a good business makes excellent products and earns a healthy return,” Fields added. “A great business does all that while creating a better world. That is what continues to drive us each day.”
# # #
* Survey carried out by The Futures Company between July and August 2012; 6,028 people were questioned across six European countries – Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.
** E. Martin, S. Shaheen, J. Lidicker, “The Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Holdings: Results from a North American Shared-Use Vehicle Survey.” Transportation Research Record, 2010.
*** “Clean Transport, Urban Transport,” from the EC Commission’s Urban Mobility and Transport pages: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/urban/urban_mobility/index_en.htm