Ford CEO and president Mark Fields detailed the car manufacturer’s vision to become a mobile company yesterday – a vision which will see the firm leverage the power of the Internet of Things (IoT).
BARCELONA, SPAIN – Speaking during a keynote presentation at the Mobile World Congress on Monday, Fields outlined the company’s vision for the future – whilst also announcing a new car in Kuga, a new version of its Sync infotainment system and a few other connected services for the car owners of tomorrow.
He outlined how Ford’s core business has traditionally been selling cars, parts and services, as well as offering financing, but says that the US-based firm is no longer “just an automotive company” with Ford Smart Mobility leading a wave of investment in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and data analytics.
Talking on the firm’s expansion into mobility, he said:
“For us, this shift was driven by a changing world, which is becoming more crowded and urbanized. Air quality is a very serious problem, and customer behaviour and attitudes are changing rapidly.”
He pointed to figures which suggest that 73 percent of Europe’s population live in cities, with Barcelona in particular set to rise 17 percent to 5.5 million people by 2030, and added that Ford “decided to disrupt ourselves by expanding our business model.”
This model will see the car manufacturer look into offering more connected services in the future.
Fields described how the traditional automotive market is a $2.3 trillion market, one of which Ford takes a 6 percent share each year. However, he said that the transportation services market is a much bigger $5.4 billion trillion opportunity, and yet Ford and other automotive makers have almost a zero percent share of this market.
“That is a massive opportunity and the reason were expanding our business model and customer offering.”
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New products – with IoT
Fields announced the new Kuga and Sync 3, whilst also detailing new app partnerships with a number of partnerships – including AccuWeather. He also outlined some other initiatives which leverage the IoT. These were as follows;
GoDrive and GoPark
Fields said that Ford is building out its GoDrive pay-by-the-minute car hire and sharing service currently being trialled in London with a new variant, called GoPark.
“GoPark is a predictive parking system that can actually direct customers to a place where they’re most likely to find a parking space,” he said.
“With their permission we are equipping the vehicles with plug-in devices to collect data as they come and go [between] parking spaces in a defined area.
“And by observing patterns and combining that data with city data on traffic and parking conditions, we will be able to actually predict available parking spots based on the time of day and location.”
Ford is trialling the service in the London Borough of Islington, while GoDrive is available across 25 London locations.
Fields added: “Go Park is available to everyone and you don’t have to be a Ford owner to participate.”
Fields says that Ford has been developing autonomous cars for “more than a decade”, boasting too that this year will see the firm test more autonomous vehicles than any other manufacturer.
It’s been testing driverless cars in Michigan, Arizona and now California, and Fields said that these cars are almost fully autonomous (level 4). The next level up, according to Fields, takes the driver “completely out of the loop.”
“During the next five years we’re tripling our engineering investment in driver assist and semi-autonomous vehicle technology and accelerating availability to our customers.
Parking assist and more
Ford also announced partnerships with Ripcurl and Nike for studying what customers want and detailed Traffic Jack assist, which can control acceleration, steering and braking during slow-moving traffic.
The firm has also been working on full parking assist, so cars with automatically pull into the parking slot for the driver.
FordPass is the new customer experience platform that will debut in Europe this year.
FordPass acts as a hub for a range of connected car services, such as remote locking, car sharing, vehicle location, guides and a services marketplace.
As just one example, FordPass will partner with BP to allow payments for fuel to be carried out with FordPass in return for reward points.
A major part of FordPass is FordGuides, a service that has real people offering a 24-hour service for FordPass members to help them with things such a reserving and paying for parking at the touch of a button.
Ford is striving to become a car and technology company, particularly as it recently joined forces with IBM to accelerate how Big Data is used with cars. It is also piloting a technology demonstration using Echo to explore how AI and IoT can reshape our lives, the economy and our environment.