Ford Motor Company is rolling out a five-month car-sharing pilot program in six U.S. cites and London that allows a select number of people to offer their financed Ford vehicles for short-term rentals. Separately, the company is testing a folding electric bike that can charge as it’s stored inside a car.
The moves are part of the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker’s exploration into the future of urban mobility, known as Ford Smart Mobility. Ford has been quietly collecting data on consumer appetites for peer-to-peer sharing. Based on the information, the company envisions a growing number of people using various modes of transport to move around urban landscapes. Fords been quietly collecting data on consumer appetites for peer-to-peer sharing.
“We have learned a lot in the past six months, and now are ready to put insights into action,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said in a statement announcing the program late Tuesday. “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.”
The pilot program allows 26,000 people who financed vehicle purchases directly with Ford Motor Credit Co. in six U.S. cities and London to sign up for the peer-to-peer sharing program. Through November, the car owners can offer their vehicles for short-term rental to pre-screened customers in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, California; Chicago; Washington D.C.; and Portland, Oregon.
“There are a lot of different futures in mobility,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in an interview with Bloomberg last month. “Because autonomy, that’s mobility. You’ve got connected car, you’ve got these different ways to access vehicles. You’ve got fractional ownership in Zipcar. You’ve got Uber and Lyft. In aggregate, it is changing the way we use our vehicles. And it’s happening really fast.”
Ford says its research has found that about a third of millennials (people born between the early 80s and the early 2000s) in the U.S. are open to renting their belongings, like bicycles, gadgets and cars, and are more willing to share rides with others to lower costs.
Ford’s concept MoDe:Flex electric bicycle connects to a smartphone app that plots the most efficient mode of transport for getting from one point to another. The bike can be stored away in the trunk of a car where the battery can be changed. The company didn’t say when or if the bike would be available to the public.