The impending introduction of self-driving car technology presents Ford with something of a dilemma down the road: take the driver entirely out of the picture for the sake of making motoring safer and more efficient, or continue to offer enthusiast-centered products like the Ford Mustang alongside its autonomous vehicles.
It seems Ford will take the latter route – at least for the foreseeable future. In an interview on CBS This Morning last August, Executive Chairman Bill Ford described the automaker’s future position with regard to its product as “a bit schizophrenic” in that regard. More recently, Ford UK Marketing Director Lisa Brankin told Autocar that she believed Ford would continue to offer driver’s cars alongside its driverless vehicles well into the future.
“I’d like to think that people in the future will still want a fun car like a Mustang for the weekend,” said Brankin. “I can’t really imagine a time when Ford doesn’t produce a V8 Mustang.”
Ford plans to put its first fully-autonomous production vehicle on the road sometime in 2021, restricted (at first) to use in taxi and rideshare fleets. But the distance between that big, all-important first step to 100% of the world’s cars being machine-driven will take years to span – if we ever cross it at all.
“I don’t believe fully autonomous cars will be on our roads in any big number for at least another decade,” said Brankin. “When [self-driving technology] comes, it won’t come all at once. Driverless cars won’t be everywhere straight away.”