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]
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?
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