Ford is experimenting with its own "Uber-like" ride-sharing app, the Washington Post reports.
The US car manufacturer is toying with the idea of rolling out its own fleet of cars in what it calls a "dynamic social shuttle."
According to the Washington Post, Ford's app and vehicles could be tested on the streets of London as early as this year. Nothing is certain at this point and plans are still in development, but speculation has begun about when and how the company will roll out the project.
It looks like Ford is trying to tap into the area between complete city coverage, as taxis and black cabs do, and buses and routed public transport.
John Abernethy, Ford's project lead in the UK, told the Washington Post: "There is a white space for a new product. Between a taxi and a bus is a space for something else." Ford says the service could be faster than taking a bus, but cheaper than an UberX — yet nestled neatly in between the two, in terms of market and customer use.
Ford announced this project as one of a host of developments in January. Venturebeat says the motor company is hoping to carry out 25 experiments in cities around the world to test new driving models and initiatives. Most involved car sharing, Venturebeat adds.
At the time, CEO Mark Fields appeared to hint that Ford's plans were inspired by the likes of Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. There's a huge trend for ride-sharing and Ford's CEO noted during CES that today's demographic seems less inclined to actually own cars.
Nobody knows when we'll see "Uber-like" Ford vehicles rolling around London. As the Washington Post notes, Abernethy and his team haven't yet identified who a Ford app customer would be, and what cars would best suit the service. (The Ford Transit has been noted as a possibility.)
At this point, it looks as though shuttle buses directly to airports are the most likely first step. Ford has been putting together an app that matches riders with a mode of transport, probably a sort of "premium mini-bus." The Washington Post highlights this as the company's vision: A high-end, on-demand pooling system. Whatever it's doing, Ford could really shake up public travel.
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