Ford to acquire shuttle service Chariot with plans for worldwide push

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Ford Motor said on Friday it would obtain San Francisco-based shuttle service Chariot with plans to broaden the service worldwide, another step in the automaker broadens beyond car manufacturing to become a mobility company. The Detroit car manufacturer stated Chariot prepares to expand globally, moving into 5 more markets in the next 18 months. Terms of the offer were not disclosed.

Ford, which stated it would establish a “city solutions” group to deal with cities worldwide on transport, is trying to diversify from automobiles offered to customers into other modes of transportation amid enormous disruption in the traditional vehicle industry. The bet on movement in congested, metropolitan zones helps protect conventional automakers as the introduction of self-driving automobiles and growing popularity of ride services like Uber and Lyft threaten automobile ownership.

“By expanding our business model to include brand-new forms of transport– from bikes to dynamic shuttles and more– we are presenting new customers to Ford and developing new earnings and profit opportunities for the future,” stated Jim Hackett, chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC. The automaker also stated it would release its “Ford GoBike” bike sharing program next year with the business Motivate, adding new stations and 7,000 bikes throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area by the end of 2018.

Presently, Chariot runs 100 Ford Transit shuttles in the San Francisco Bay Area along 28 routes. The on-demand shuttle bus will utilize data to draw up the best routes to serve the public’s requirements, Ford said. Ford has currently begun little, pilot shuttle bus programs in Kansas City, Missouri, and Dearborn, Michigan. Other automakers explore movement services like General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and BMW.

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