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Ford Motor : Smart Mobility shifts from research to implementation

07/04/2015 | 09:36am US/Eastern



FORD Motor Company has announced the next phase of its Ford Smart Mobility plan - moving from research to the start of implementation, including new strategic areas of focus, new pilot programs and new mobility product experiments.

Ford Smart Mobility is the company's plan to deliver the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.

Ford introduced the plan in January, along with 25 experiments aimed at better understanding consumers' mobility needs around the globe.

"My great-grandfather helped put the world on wheels so everyone could enjoy the benefits of mobility," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford.

"Our vision today is to expand that same thinking using advanced technology and new business models, and addressing the mobility challenges people face around the world."

Following six months of gathering data and consumer insights, Ford is honing in on two strategic areas - flexible use and ownership of vehicles, and multimodal urban travel solutions.

"We now are moving from experimentation to implementation," said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, at the annual Further with Ford trends conference in Palo Alto recently.

"We have learned a lot in the past six months, and now are ready to put insights into action. Our goal is to make people's lives better by helping them more easily navigate through their day, address societal issues and, over time, change the way the world moves - just as Henry Ford did more than 100 years ago."

Ford Motor Credit Company also disclosed Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing - a pilot program for select customers in six US cities and in London.

Ford Credit is inviting 14,000 and 12,000 customers in six US cities and London, respectively, to sign up to rent their Ford Credit-financed vehicles to prescreened drivers for short-term use, offsetting monthly vehicle ownership costs.

US customers participate through the Web-based, mobile-friendly software of ride-share company Getaround, while London drivers connect through a similar rental system of easyCar Club.

"Consumers tell us they are interested in sharing the costs of vehicle ownership, and this program will help us understand how much that extends to customers who are financing a Ford vehicle," said David McClelland, Ford Credit vice president of marketing.

"As most vehicles are parked and out of use much of the time, this can help us gauge our customers' desires to pick up extra cash and keep their vehicles in use."

New findings from Penn Schoen Berland, an independent research company, show:

One third of Millennials in the United States are interested in renting out their own belongings as a way to supplement their income

Young Americans rank car rides second only to book lending as things they are most open to sharing

More than half of Millennials report being open to sharing rides with others

Half of Millennial and Generation Z consumers point to money savings as the top advantage to sharing goods and services. For 40 percent, it's the opportunity to try new products, while for 33 percent, it's having access to more options

The pilot is being offered to select Ford Credit customers in California - including Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco; as well as in Portland, Oregon; Chicago and Washington, D.C. It runs through November.

Ford also recently announced GoDrive, an on-demand, public car-sharing pilot. The service offers customers flexible, practical and affordable access to a fleet of cars for one-way journeys with easy parking throughout London.

The new pilot - which grew from one of the more than 25 mobility experiments Ford announced in January - offers Londoners an easy way to access transportation through:

50 cars positioned in 20 locations

One-way trips with guaranteed parking

Pay-as-you-go, per-minute pricing covers all fees

Availability of zero-emission Focus Electric vehicles

In many cities, driving your vehicle from home to work is not feasible. Ford is looking for solutions here, too, and today is revealing a new electric bike and a prototype Apple Watch app that makes using the eBike even easier for urban commutes.

MoDe:Flex is Ford's third, most versatile eBike yet - easily reconfigurable for different customer needs.

The bike's center frame assembly includes the motor and battery, while the front and rear assemblies and wheels can be configured for road, mountain or city riding. The bike folds and stores inside any Ford vehicle - where it can be charged while stowed.

Like the MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro eBikes introduced in March, MoDe:Flex connects seamlessly with a rider's smartphone thanks to the MoDe:Link app.

The app harnesses real-time information regarding weather, congestion, parking costs, time, traffic and public transportation. It includes eyes-free navigation, route planning, and health and fitness information.

It also helps to identify the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transport for a journey. A new extension of MoDe:Link for Apple Watch brings all of the real-time data and functionality to the eBike rider's wrist.

This includes the "no sweat" mode, which increases electric pedal assist based on heart rate - ensuring riders gets to their destinations without breaking a sweat.

The wearable device also provides safety notifications. Hazards, such as potholes ahead, are signaled through vibrating handlebars, plus the Apple Watch taps the rider and beeps.

Moreover, Ford also shared insights from some of its more than 25 mobility experiments:

Dynamic Shuttle: The on-demand ride-sharing service in New York and London studied how Ford vehicles - in this case, a Transit van - should be modified to make it most accommodating to consumers. People told Ford they want:

Transparent fares and travel times

Enough personal space to feel comfortable

Amenities such as Wi-Fi

Space for small bags

A less-than-five-minute walk to or from their pick-up and drop-off points

InfoCycle: Research as to how bicycles can be best used in urban environments. Learnings include:

Both consumers and cities can use data from bike sensors

Bike sensor data can provide information about traffic patterns, pedestrians and road conditions that is difficult to obtain from vehicle sensors

In the future, this data may be combined with vehicle data to analyze road quality, characterize micro-climates, or identify traffic patterns throughout the day

For example, city planners could use this information to create bike lanes. Bike riders could get insights on best routes or real-time information on areas to avoid - SG

(c) 2015 The Saudi Gazette. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers

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