Ford's Rao to Ride-Sharing Firms: Our Service Centers Are Waiting; Come and Get It

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ford s rao to ride sharing firms our service centers are waiting come and get it

Ford Motor Company may soon press dealership service centers to prioritize maintenance and repairs for ride-sharing fleets and their employees. This comes after the company’s decision to expand its in-house shuttling firm, known as Chariot, and as its long-term plan to bring an autonomous ride-sharing solution to market by 2021 takes shape. But Ford also knows rival companies can be a strong source of revenue. Omnicraft, anyone?

Even moderately sized cities have several thousand Uber and Lyft drivers, and Ford’s CEO of Smart Mobility Raj Rao thinks they represent an untapped resource. He believes service centers should go the extra mile for them, even if it means some dealerships have to stay open 24 hours to provide swift turnarounds.

“We just have to think differently about what does the dealership model mean without all the current incumbencies of the current model,” Rao said. “You’re talking about same-hour service, overnight service, things [we] don’t even think about.”

These may just be ideas Ford was kicking around during Thursday’s connected-car conference in Detroit, but there’s already a framework to help the notion take flight. “We’ve made a big investment in telematics organically to put more intelligence in the vehicles,” Rao explained. “We’re sharing that data with dealers.”

Having that data allows service centers to better predict necessary maintenance schedules and adjust accordingly. Eventually that information could be used to establish modeling that would assess the likelihood of incoming vehicle volumes and streamline the entire process, getting drivers in and out much more quickly.

“When you have ride-sharing vehicles, the last thing you want is to put that in a dealership and wait four, five days to get it back, because that’s downtime,” Rao said. “Our view is that dealers need to provide more real-time services. They need to anticipate when your vehicle should be serviced … they need to be a lot more dynamic.”

The rumor mill already has the company taking the initial steps to facilitate the change. But, according to Automotive News, Ford has denied any official plans to pursue Rao’s proposals — stating that has only taken them under consideration. The costs associated with such a plan is likely one reason it may not want to jump into the deep end too quickly. However, Rao maintained that the increased expenditures would be worth it if the end result was an exceptionally well-organized dealer network.

[Image: Ford Motor Co]

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9 of 13 comments
  • Hamilton Guy Hamilton Guy on Jun 08, 2017

    Since the service departments of the dealers, presumably, currently utilize their techs full time or close to it, where do they propose to find the techs to staff two more shifts? In Ontario, AFAIK, it is 5 year apprenticeship to become a mechanic. Many industries are already suffering from a shortage of qualified trades people. How does Ford think they could double or triple the number of mechanics their dealers have without a massive investment in encouraging youth to pursue going into the "blue collar" trades?

    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Jun 08, 2017

      Well they would likely be stealing them away from independents. That is where the business would come from and those techs would need somewhere to go. Of course there are places that already running 3 shifts a day servicing commercial vehicles. There is a reason that many fleets settle on one vehicle and that is to maximize up time by being able to stock virtually all of the items they could expect to replace. Transmission failed? One is sitting on a pallet ready to go and make sure the vehicle only misses a single shift. For things like brakes, starter, alternator, water pump, fluid changes, ect it will be ready to go back out and finish it's shift.

  • Drew8MR Drew8MR on Jun 09, 2017

    Just what the hell is he going to do with those giant Knipex pliers anyway? Is the plumbing out or something?

    • See 5 previous
    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Jun 09, 2017

      @mason This is a F650/F750 so it has a tilting hood, so no cab removal. However the fact is that pretty much any job can be done with the cab on it is just that much faster and easier to do it cab off sitting on the front tire or standing right next to the engine instead of on a top side creeper or perched on a bucket. When I helped my buddy do one for 6.0 head gaskets it took the two of us about 45 minutes until the chassis was rolled out from under the cab on the lift. That was taking our time because it was the first time either of us had the cab off of a Super Duty. So for someone that has done it a couple of times less than an hour seems pretty doable. So you spend 2 hours to save 3 or 4 and your back.