The app-based service is well suited to Ford’s mobility goals. It already uses Ford Transit Connect vans to shuttle people around the city and accelerates the company’s vision of a ride-sharing platform in major cities by 2021.
Chariot shuttles commuters from popular locations in San Francisco, and costs less than a taxi ride. Ford intends to expand Chariot’s service into “at least five additional markets in the next 18 months.”
Shuttle service is nothing new, a lot of tourists use a similar service when visiting New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. The difference with Chariot is real-time route monitoring and instant access, allowing people to hop into the van midway through the route.
Taking twelve commuters and stuffing them in a van is also a tactic Facebook, Google, and other Silicon Valley companies use to get their own staff to work on time. Unions in San Francisco have protested multiple times over shuttle service, due to long hours and low pay.
Ford also loses two wheels with GoBike
Ford also announced it is bringing GoBike, the company’s bike-sharing service, to the San Francisco Bay Area. It plans to have 7,000 bikes in SF by the end of 2018. Users will also be able to rent their bike on the FordPass platform, launching next year.
A few months ago, Ford didn’t seem to have any major plans for ride-sharing or autonomous cars. Now, it has a firm date for its first autonomous vehicle launch, 2021. It also has said it will launch a ride-sharing platform in most major cities by that time, of which we assume Chariot and GoBike will be a part.
It might not be close to Uber’s market penetration, but Ford has confirmed in the past month it is going to fight tooth and nail against the tech companies in the self-driving and ride-sharing business.