Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford spoke to RTE News in Dublin recently; the automotive executive was in Ireland for the recent international Web Summit and a Ford-sponsored SYNC AppLink “hackathon” hosted in-conjunction with the conference. He opened up to RTE about Volkswagen’s recent diesel emissions cheat scandal, the future of mobility, and everything in-between.
First, and perhaps most important, Bill Ford told RTE that the automaker’s days as a simple “car and truck manufacturer” were numbered, speculating that the company’s future function might rather be as a “mobility company.” Under this direction, rather than necessarily selling cars and trucks directly to consumers, Ford might instead be the keeper of a full, global infrastructure of connected and autonomous vehicles essentially for rent or immediate short-term use, especially in crowded urban areas.
In fact, Ford has already experimented with a model somewhat like this, starting a pilot car-sharing program called “GoDrive” in at least five different major cities worldwide. According to Bill Ford, that’s more in-line with what Ford Motor Company might look like in the future. He told RTE News that in the coming years, a consumer might be able to use a smart device to ask the network: “I’m here and need to get there, how do I do that?” He also indicated that more-connected and autonomous cars are a focus for the automaker in-line with that vision, although the transition from customer-driven automobiles will be a gradual one.
Finally, Bill Ford touched on the recent Volkswagen diesel emissions cheat scandal, remarking that in all likelihood, still more fallout is yet to come. Already, there’s been a flurry of executive-shuffling and forced retirements, not to mention bad press.
Bill Ford stated that Ford Motor Company has already done multiple inquiries into its own wares, concluding that the automaker does not have any similar emissions testing “defeat devices” in-place. Even still, said the executive, it’s essential to keep asking those sorts of questions.