Testing a New Service with the Ford Transit
With the success of companies like Uber, Ford is exploring a space in an ever-changing marketplace.
Already this year, well over 25% of new vehicle purchases are being made by people born between 1980 and the late 1990s. This group of people, increasingly, is starting to dominate buying power in all aspects of life, and they currently drive more than their parents’ generation by the tune of almost 150 miles more per month. More than that though, the buying power of millennials is expected to overtake the baby boomer generation very soon, and the rippling effects of this baton pass are far reaching. Including into companies like Ford in regards to how they plan to manufacture and market vehicles like the Ford Transit. Ford is currently Testing a New Service with the Ford Transit to fill in a market space that exists along the lines of Uber.
Ford is one of those rare companies that spends as much time trying to predict the future as it does managing the present. And they’ve operated that way for decades. More than any other auto maker, Ford invests a lot of their resources into further developing an entire division of their company devoted to studying possible, probable, and preferable futures. This past year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Ford’s CEO announced the Ford Smart Mobility platform, which is a series of over 25 experiments already taking place around the planet. Ford’s goal? To change the way the world moves by changing the way people work and live. One of these ongoing experiments is The Dynamic Social Shuttle.
The Dynamic Social Shuttle is currently a smartphone app that lets commuters order a quick shuttle trip with a Ford Transit. It’s part ridesharing, part taxi-service, part Uber. It is an evolving product in a testing phase, and the powers that be at Ford aren’t quite sure where it will end up. But they see potential in a market space being developed by a new generation of people who want to get around quickly and easily. This millennial generation is more independent, impatient, entrepreneurial and environmentally aware than the leading generations before it. As such, whatever Ford comes up with has to meet the needs and desires of this group of people.For fleet vehicle managers, this is an entirely new area for expansion with immeasurable growth potential, and Ford is already testing its viability.
Uber is currently one of the fastest growing companies that operates within and on the fringe of the automotive industry. It is a mobile application that acts as a transportation hub. Anyone in need of a ride can open the app on their phone, submit a trip request, and a driver in the area can accept the request and pick them up. The crowd-sourced drivers’ use their phones to accept incoming requests, using their own vehicles to take people to their desired destination. Both drivers and customers rate the experience, meaning drivers can refuse to transport less-than-desirable people, and riders can refuse rides from less-than desirable drivers. Moreover, every ride is tracked in real-time as both a convenience and safety measure.
You probably already know what Uber is, and how it works. But for those of you who don’t yet know, let us get you up to speed.
Uber has been embraced wholeheartedly by millennials. For fleet managers, rideshare programs, taxi services, municipal services and others they are not only disrupting the market, but creating a completely new market space. A space Ford hopes to fill.
“There is a white space for a new product,” says John Abernethy, project lead for the Advanced Product Group at Ford Motor Company based in Britain. “Between a taxi and a bus is a space for something else.”
Whether that product is a fleet of vehicles, a new business franchise opportunity, or a proprietary mobile app, that has yet to be decided. Nonetheless, the new platform is being tested out in New York and London, with many new iterations coming down the line. There’s no telling where all of this will end up, but for now Ford is relying heavily on vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect and Ford Transit Wagon. You can see our inventory here.
“Changing the way we think, collaborate and behave is essential to ensuring freedom of movement of both people and economies,” said Barb Samardzich, chief operating officer, Ford of Europe. “The Ford Smart Mobility plan supports our commitment to innovation and is aimed specifically at developing smarter transportation systems that take the worry and anxiety out of journey planning and improve the quality of life in busy cities.”