Detroit, 15. September 2016 – ford has its sights firmly set on the booming ride-hailing market as it develops self-driving cars. As early as 2021, the second-largest u.S. Automaker plans to put into service the first fully autonomous robotic car for commercial passenger transportation. The vehicle, which will not have a steering wheel or accelerator and brake pedals, is to be developed precisely for trucking companies. Ford expects up to 20 percent of new cars sold to be self-driving by the end of the next decade, and plans to transform itself into a full mobility provider.
On two tubes
Ford ceo mark fields explains his company’s plans in person. He comes in jeans, an open shirt and a checkered jacket that could also have come from alexander dobrindt’s closet. However, it is clearly more tasteful than the jackets of the german transport minister. "We have to stand with one foot in the past and the other in the future," fields says, and by "past" he means the legacy of henry ford and his company’s more than 100-year history. Fields is certain the next decade will change the automotive industry as much as the legendary company founder’s switch from pure manufacturing to assembly line production did.
"Every minute in the u.S., 30 new cars are sold, seven million miles are driven, 125.000 cabs, uber rides and 60.000 car-sharing rides are on the road and 350.000 apps downloaded," says fields. What is meant is the profound change in mobility, which will intensify in the near future. In order not to end up on the scrap heap of automotive history, ford is to transform itself from a pure car seller to a mobility provider. An approach in direct competition with uber and google.
In 2021, the u.S. Automaker plans to offer autonomous shuttle service in a major city. The vehicles are expected to be able to reach level four of five of robo-driving. That is: being on the road in a mapped area without a driver. Today, the self-standing ford cabs are still quite striking. On the roof are lidar radar sensors, not already, but functional. "It’s important for us that the technology is robust," explains johannes strom. The engineer in the passenger seat monitors the data from the sensors and the maps. The converted ford fusion hybrids make their rounds on the company’s premises, where the employees go about their jobs as normal. People cross the lane, cars come out of side-streets or stop abruptly.