Last Friday, the establishment of a new company – Ford Smart Mobility, LLC – was announced, sending a clear message that the automaker is serious about its ventures into the unfamiliar territory of transportation services.
But after all, why? Ford had successfully launched more than 30 “Smart Mobility” experiments worldwide before the formation of this new subsidiary, all of which were executed by the core automotive company. What purpose does the split serve?
To find out, Autoblog spoke to Ford VP of Research and Advanced Engineering Ken Washington. “This was a direct outcome of our very intentional approach to take our time and get it right,” he said. “We’ve been fairly deliberate about exploring the space and the options. There’s a lot of ways people can move around.”
Mr. Washington went on to say: “We thought doing it within the boundaries of our current company and being part of this innovation ecosystem, that’s going to be hard. So we thought it was the right move… We wanted to get the most bang for our buck being separate, and still be connected so we can flow insights from customers back into our core business as well.”
Autoblog‘s Pete Bigelow likens the move to Google’s new Alphabet Inc. holding company, which facilitates “ambitious projects” that might not prove profitable, and isolates them to some extent from Google’s core business. As Ford’s Smart Mobility plan requires a lot of experimentation and rapid innovation, the automaker’s decision to create a new subsidiary with a flexible startup mindset will likely prove a useful one.