From the Verge:
Ford … is acquiring Chariot, a private, crowdsourced shuttle service based in San Francisco, and is investing in Motivate, the largest operators of bike-share programs in the US. It also announced plans to set up a new division within the company tasked with advising cities directly about “mobility solutions,” CEO Mark Fields told The Verge Friday.

It’s another sign that Ford, one of the oldest and most storied car makers in the world, is aware of that the writing on the wall is not favorable to car companies. Consumers are trending away from personal car ownership, and toward ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which have both been recently emphasizing carpooling as the next big idea in transportation. …

Chariot, which has been operating in San Francisco since 2014, is part of a recent trend of bus startups that use algorithms to develop transit routes based on user demand. Using the app, customers can book a seat in one of the companies blue-and-white shuttle vans for around $4 a trip. …
This isn’t Ford’s first flirtation with quasi-public bus services. Last February, the company teamed up with Bridj, a data-driven pop-up bus company, and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to roll out a fleet of shuttle vans that residents can summon with the tap of an app. Ford has also unveiled several “smartbike” prototypes in recent years that it envisions as part of a broader mobility system that integrates cars, bikes, and various other forms of transportation into a seamless, networked whole.


  1. Is this a matter of co-opting the competition in order to undermine the market for these services (such as the theories about GM buying up LA streetcars in the 40’s) or an actual, honest foray into new areas of business? Talk amongst yourselves…

    1. It’s about revenue diversification AND a first mover advantage. In any city there will only be 3-4 Car2Go or bike sharing type services not 20 or 30 .. so first one in wins the biggest market share. See BMW’s very late attempt with ReachNow (just 2 cities right now in NA: Seattle and Portland )
      Toyota is studying the Evo success and will likely clone in elsewhere. But how many more do we need in Vancouver, for example ?
      Car (or bike) sharing is also a perpetual revenue model unlike car sales that gets you revenue once, then not again from same customer for 4 or 5 years. Leasing is as such a favourite business model for car companies as the lease rollover almost always triggers a new sale. For, for example, the anticipated revenue is 3h/day times 29 cents a minute or $45/day or $1300/month or almost $15,000/year which is above the price of the vehicle. Ditto with car2Go. Why sell a car if you can make MORE MONEY renting them by the minute ??
      Of course, the decline of motordom is exaggerated and will happen only in cities, but not in areas surrounding cities or rural ares. So while we will see less cars in Vancouver we will see more in Burnaby, Surrey, Langley etc .. and all the other 1000+ million+ people citites worlwide. (btw how many cities are there worldwide with more than 1M people ?)

  2. Nice try but the US auto market had a record sales year last year. Ford has had record sales in China this year. Somehow I don’t think Ford is aware” the writing on the wall is not favorable to car companies. Just smart in diversifying their product portfolio.

    1. Ford just reported that a modest slowdown in North American profits combined with weaker sales in China, led to a 9% decline in profit for the quarter.

      1. Wasn’t just a bad quarter. They also forecast a drop in sales in 2016 from the record 2015 you noted, and a further drop in 2017. They are concerned over the slow down in US sales of pickups and SUVs, fuelled by temporarily low gas prices, since that is where all the global profit is. Sales in China don’t help their global profit much.

        1. What, a drop in sales following a record year?! Say it isn’t so! While one might be tempted to say that’s called a business cycle, it would be more satisfying to screech “this is the end of the auto industry as we know it” !

  3. I would not worry about Ford. They reported their best quarter ever in the history of the company this year.
    China sales are down but a factory that used to produce Hefei vehicles is being converted to produce 200,000 Ford passenger cars per year, to try and meet growing demand. Ford only has around 5% of market share in China but they will still sell around 500,000 vehicles there this year, which is up by around 50% since 2013.
    In the US the pickup truck segment is a huge contributor to the record-breaking predictions for 2016.
    Ford continues to dominate full-size pickup sales with all three of its plants running at or near capacity. Once again Ford has crushed its month-over-month numbers (2016 versus 2015), this time selling more than 70,000 F-150, F-250 and F-350 pickups.

    1. I think people often underestimate the worldwide car (and related energy) MAGNITUDE by looking at clean and pristine downtown Vancouver and trying to extrapolate to the world.
      Annually, over 100,000,000 vehicles are being produced, 90M+ cars and 10M+ motorcycles or mopeds. Yes over 100 MILLION (almost 24M in China alone, almost 15M for the US lone). Tesla is aiming for not even 100,000/year in 2016. Maybe 500,000 by 2020 which is less than 0.4% of annual car production.
      The main issue is that it costs far too much money for existing car producers to introduce electric models that have consumer appeal, i.e. a decent long range. Battery technology is not good enough yet to provide anything close to gasoline in terms of energy density per kg of weight (or liter of volume). A gallon of gasoline can move a family of 4 with all their gear 40-50km, for example, and to do that with a battery you’d need ten to 15 times the weight/volume. More on this here or here
      In addition, we use almost 100,000,000 barrels of oil daily, plus 150 BOE (barrels of oil equivalent) in other energy forms, such as hydro, coal, nuclear, gas or so called “renewables”.
      As such, the envisioned “getting off oil” mantra that is allegedly “just around the corner i.e. 10 years” is a wild fantasy by green fanatics, such as those sponsoring our Tide sponsored green mayor that has given us many bike lanes but also low housing affordability and not new public transit.
      Will we see more solar power in the energy mix: Absolutely.
      Will we see more electric cars in urban environments ? Absolutely.
      Will we see more car sharing as opposed to car ownership: Absolutely.
      Will it be fast: Heck, no.

        1. Change has winners and losers.
          The climate is warming. We all understand that.
          Why not start with the most obvious ? Coal burning ? US and China first.
          Where are the reports about the benefits of global warming for Nordic countries such as Canada ?
          Benefits such as
          Longer growing seasons
          Higher crop yields
          Lower heating bills
          More ice free ports
          Less icy sideways
          Less death by freezing
          More flowers
          Bigger trees
          Longer summers

        2. Studies show there are many more losers than winners.
          Longer growing season is offset by changes in the water supply, both floods and drought. And expect rangeland to undergo changes as well.
          Northern regions that will warm typically have poor soils. Also, the amount of sunlight doesn’t change as it is governed by the tilt of the earth.
          Less death by freezing (1.79%) is offset against more deaths from heatwaves (5.74%). Ref Medina 2007. Also increased heat stress.
          More ice free ports is offset by more mobile icebergs, posing a risk to shipping. Also consider that glacial ice melt threatens 60 million people who rely on melt for water supplies.
          What is the positive to ocean acidification?
          Also consider that if we are not hit as hard as other areas, we can expect large numbers of climate refugees.
          This has all been well studied. Worth reading up on.

        3. @Jeff: yet we do NOTHING in the major polluting countries especially China to reduce coal use. You honestly think switching from a fuel efficient car to a bike in clean countries like Canada makes a difference if China, US, India and other nations continue to pollute especially with coal ?
          We have the tools but they are not used today: road tolls, higher parking fee, more rapid transit, far FAR higher gasoline taxes, higher taxes on inefficient (eg large) pickup trucks, trucks or cars, less immigration. Or import taxes (CO2 surcharge) from polluting countries. Or force every car in Canada to be hybrid with a certain minimum battery size as that has proven to vastly reduce gasoline usage. All those things would make a real difference. But no, our leadership is weak and talks and is unwilling to implement the tough decisions that make a difference immediately. Even our green mayor chose not to tax residential parking to force less car use. Weak weak weak:
          100M new vehicles annually. 1B+ now on the road worldwide ! That won’t change anytime soon. Why are e-cars not flying off the shelf like this new Chevy Bolt at sub $50,000 ? .. oh yeah . physics 101 ..
          AVs might create something worse than the SOV (single occupied vehicle) namely the ZOV (zero occupied vehicle) !

  4. Oh my. The melodrama. The fact is that when the last age descended down across our continent it eradicated many species entirely. A warmer climate promotes the life of all living beings. The ice killed off our mammal including the mammoths and many others that used to roam, including our ancient dinosaurs. As warming increases vast cold areas of the northern regions will again be opening up to life as only known in historical studies. We don’t study and learn about those times as terrible and bad, they were perfectly fine and life was abundant and plentiful.
    Fear of change is not unusual. Sometime it is manifested Weill veiled threats like we read above, where the commentor Jeff ominously warns us that, “. we can expect large numbers of climate refugees”. Using the derogative ‘refugees’ betrays a bias that completely denies the history of, not only all living things on the planet but of mankind itself too. All living beings and things grow towards the light and towards warmth. Reasonable people do not call this or them refugees. Migration to a better place is as normal as life itself and it certainly applies when considering the country known as Canada.
    The fears over climate change will hopefully soon become a relic of a generation of fearmongers that will be relegated to history, along with their nostalgia for what they imagine to be good old days, like they themselves as they reminisce and fade into their sunset while pleading for more peer reviews of their old fashioned beliefs and just keep on moaning about the weather.

    1. We don’t need to worry about the absolutes of climate change as much as the rate of climate change. It is the speed that will bite us.
      That rage of change means that much of our infrastructure, and the means to feed our current population, are threatened.
      One day science denial will be seen for what it is.

  5. That was the first wave. Then the ice retreated and again the animals Including humans came across Beringia from Asia. Millions of years later there was a volcanic eruption and the ash killed off many species. You know, the Bruneau-Jarbidge event.
    The only constant is change. Ask any prof.

  6. Bob, Eric, Thomas. Sorry Ford is a dying company, all you have to do is look at the share price ($12.12) and the downward trend and EPS. Ford down -17% in the last year. Chart is pointing to the bottom right corner.

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