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

fords 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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  • 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.

  • Theflyersfan I was living in one part of the world when China and Russia were completing their 21st century scramble of Africa. They were pumping billions into the economies of these countries building new dams, bridges, skyscrapers, freeways/toll roads, utilities, power plants, you know - projects that would benefit the average resident of said location. All they wanted in exchange were the mineral, mining, fishing, timber, etc., rights of said location. And they got them. So during that era when they were looking at global expansion, we were fighting unwinnable wars and our "leaders" on the left were yelling at the "leaders" on the right and vice versa, and what happens when all you do is stare and focus on one thing like DC is known to do? The world moves on around you. And that's what happened here.We had the same opportunity to build Africa up and to make the same deals as other countries, but our "nation building" tends to take place via the conversion from something solid and standing to something in pieces and in rubble. So it looks like we'll continue to have to deal with hostile nations holding our feet into the fire and working through their many geopolitical issues just so we can continue to get cheap electronics and necessary materials in our manufacturing just because we decided around 40+ years ago to ship it all overseas because we wanted to save 50 cents on a pack of socks and the CEOs needed their next quarterly statement to look even better to the shareholders so they could increase their pay and bonuses, consequences be damned.
  • DweezilSFV I didn't think GM could make a worse looking truck than their full-sizers.Success.
  • DweezilSFV GM. Still trying to make OnStar happen.And still the answer to a question no one ever asked.
  • Corey Lewis Look, here's the voice warning record player!
  • Buickman as Donnie Brosco said... Forget about it.