Ford’s two existing Smart Mobility offices are in Dearborn, Michigan and Palo Alto, California. Its new office in England will be at Here East – a complex that served as a media center during the 2012 London Olympics, and will accommodate a team of around 40 employees.
“Basing our rapidly growing team here in the heart of mobility innovation in London is critical to accelerating our learning and development of new technologies,” says Ford President of Europe, Middle East, and Africa Steven Armstrong. The automaker is planning a trial run for a fleet of plug-in-hybrid Transit vans in the UK this fall – a project supported by local government body Transport for London and a £4.7 million grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Center.
A couple of years ago, Ford selected London as one of the locations in which it would test a short-term vehicle rental program called “GoDrive.” The program allowed members to book cars for short-distance trips around town on short notice through a mobile app, and provided 20 parking/return locations so that customers weren’t made to fret about finding a space.
The city is one that could certainly stand to benefit from new approaches to providing transportation while cutting down on congestion; its roadways are so congested that those who drive in Central London from 7am to 6pm, Monday through Friday, are charged a daily £11.50 ($14.57 at the current rate) Congestion Charge for the privilege.