Ford Motor Company has decided it wants to do more than just sell cars and trucks.
On March 11, the automaker announced the creation of a new business subsidiary in the hopes of becoming a leader in the field of mobility services.
Ford Smart Mobility LLC will be headed by former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, who will leave Ford’s board of directors in order to take on the new position.
Ford joins a growing list of automotive rivals looking to diversify their operations by investing in the emerging field, the most prominent aspect of which is ride-sharing and ride-hailing services.
“Ford Smart Mobility and expanding into mobility services are significant growth opportunities,” said Ford president and CEO Mark Fields in a statement.
“Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue. Jim Hackett is the right visionary leader – with extensive experience in business development and design – to take us into the mobility services business in the future.”
The team at Ford Smart Mobility LLC will work with Ford’s existing product development and engineering team to create mobility products that can be marketed commercially. It will also invest in, and collaborate with, other startup tech companies.
Ford claims the subsidiary’s team will be composed of business and technology leaders from both inside and outside the company.
The automaker already has several mobility pilot projects on the go, including the parking system GoPark and car-sharing program GoPark in London, England, as well as the Dynamic Shuttle program near its Dearborn, Michigan headquarters. It will also be introducing the FordPass digital platform this year, serving members in the New York City area first.
Mobility services are quickly becoming entwined with autonomous driving technology, a marriage automakers hope will one day bring self-driving vehicles — ideally, one that they produce — to the door of a ride-hailing user.
On that front, Ford has been testing self-driving technology on a special road course in Michigan, using a modified Ford Fusion Hybrid.