Ford autonomous car plans

Ford autonomous car plans


(C)  Getty images
(C) Getty images

During a keynote at Mobile World Congress, Ford CEO Mark Fields laid out the automaker’s plan to differentiate its cars of the future from models that tech giants like Google and Apple are building. To get there, Ford is tripling its investment in both autonomous and driver-assisted technology over the next five years.

“At Ford, we’ve been focused on autonomous vehicles for more than a decade, and this year, we’ll have the largest autonomous test fleet among all automakers,” Fields said. “During the next five years, we’re tripling our engineering investment in driver-assist and semi-autonomous vehicle technology and accelerating availability for our customers.”

Sometime 2016, Ford will start testing its self-driving cars in California after experimenting with them in Michigan and Arizona.
Fields acknowledged that fleets of self-driving cars are still years away, but he mentioned that some Ford cars are already equipped with features like controlled parking and steering.

Fields cited a stat that the traditional global automotive industry generates $2.3 trillion in revenue each year, with roughly 6 percent coming from Ford. Meanwhile, transportation services like mass transit, taxis and ride-sharing services bring in $5.4 trillion in annual revenue. “That is a massive opportunity, and it’s the reason we’re expanding our business model and our customer offerings,” Fields said. “We’re further growing our core business, which is all around designing, manufacturing, marketing, servicing and financing great cars, SUVs, trucks and electrified vehicles,” he said. “But at the same time, we’re aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility and becoming part of transportation services to meet customers’ needs and become part of a huge revenue stream.”