25th July 2018
The Ford Motor Company has announced the launch of its new organisation that is to be responsible for the research and development of automated vehicles, with a view to aggressively expand its place within the AV market. To companies like Google, Uber and now Ford, self driving vehicles are being seen as something of a Holy Grail, with the two tech companies spending huge amounts of money and effort on what many other companies considered to be little more than a pet project.
However, to Ford, self driving cars are not just a pipe dream, they have the potential to become a major part of the business, so much so that Ford is expecting to invest approximately $3 billion into AV technology between now and 2023.
Ford’s plan appears to be to adapt existing models to become self driving vehicles, with a focus on human centred design and familiarity, and of course in Ford tradition close attention being paid to the manufacturing process. By bringing about common parts across all models and utilising a flexible architecture system Ford will be able to very quickly go from design desk to showroom, allowing the manufacturing process to be nimbler and more cost effective.
Ford was said in 2017 to be in talks with Lyft to develop a self driving taxi for commercial use by 2021, this it seems fits into the recently announced plan. While Uber are attempting to develop their own self driving cars, Lyft partnering with Ford seems like a sensible choice. As Uber are reluctantly discovering through mishap after accident, knowing how to run a tech taxi company does not equate to knowing how to build a car.
Ford is just the latest car manufacturer to enter into the tech company collaboration ring, particularly with Lyft, General Motors invest $500 million in 2015, Jaguar Land Rover are also partners. While investment and partnering seems to be frenetic right now – Uber is also attracting a number of manufacturing partners including Volvo and Toyota, there is a thought at Ford that ultimately there is likely to be just three or four major players making it to the top and it makes sense to be a part of the movement from the beginning.