LOS ANGELES - Ford is moving fast to seize opportunities with cities to reduce traffic congestion in cities as it strives toward becoming a mobility company.
The Dearborn automaker and businessman Michael Bloomberg reached an agreement to work together less than a month after the former New York mayor announced the creation of a new philanthropic organization that will help cities prepare for self-driving cars and how best to use them to address city challenges.
The initiative was initially announced by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute in October.
On Tuesday, Fields announced that Ford would join forces with Bloomberg Philanthropies.
"We’re discussing how we can work together to help create the city of tomorrow, incubating ideas around mobility and to accelerate solutions in cities," Fields said during his keynote speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "Working with Bloomberg, we will collect the best ideas from around the world and put them into action."
Later, Ford told the Free Press that the partnership came together in a matter of weeks.
"When the announcement came out from Bloomberg…our City Solutions Group immediately reached out," Fields said. "That’s the benefit of having a team, this Ford City Solutions Group, that is living and working and eating this stuff 24/7."
Ford's City Solutions team was created to work with cities and study their transportation needs and to figure out how the self-driving cars, ride-sharing services and shuttle services can interact with more traditional mass transit systems.
The idea is to create better links between the vehicles the automotive industry produces, the services automakers can provide and transportation services.
The City Solutions team is just one part of a Ford Smart Mobility, a division Ford created earlier this year to oversee its mobility and autonomous vehicle development efforts.
Just six months ago, industry observers were saying Ford was moving slower than its competitors to develop self-driving vehicles and get involved in the emerging ride-sharing industry with companies like Uber and Lyft.
But after several acquisitions, Ford's declaration it will launch an autonomous car by 2020, Fields said that skepticism is dying down.
"We are just going through a very disciplined process of where to play, how to win and then what capabilities do we think we need," Fields said. "From our standpoint, as you know, we are not in a race to make announcements. We want to do what’s right for the business and what’s right for the customers."
Detroit Free Press