By on June 28, 2017

Ford GoBike, Image: Ford

Let’s say it altogether: Mobility! That’s what Ford Motor Company is up to in the tech-obsessed Millennial enclave of San Francisco. No longer will you have to turn to a truck, SUV or Mustang for rear-wheel Blue Oval motivation, and emission levels from the automaker’s latest vehicle depend solely on where the rider ate.

Yes, Ford has diversified itself right into the realm of bicycles, but don’t think for a second you’ll be able to take one home for a quick custom job. These rides must remain factory stock. While the automaker’s plan to blanket the Bay Area in bicycles might seem like a quick way to score green points for the Super Duty maker, there’s actually a team devoted to creating more of these ventures.

Still, Ford’s new GoBike network isn’t immune from the same challenges faced by its automobile division. You see, competition looms on the horizon. Competition with more power.

Announced this morning, Ford, working in partnership with Brooklyn-based bike-share firm Motivate, will expand a preexisting Bay Area bike network from 70 stations and 700 bikes to 546 station and 7,000 bikes (3,500 by the end of the summer). Bay Area Bike Share, the previous entity, ceased to exist last night. Soon, you won’t be able to go anywhere without seeing Ford bikes.

It’s hard to say whether Henry would have been proud, or whether he’d scratch his head and think, “We’re back to this now?”

Regardless of the unusual direction, Ford claims the explosion in bike use makes GoBike a solid bet for its growing mobility arm. Riders simply mosey up to a GoBike station, pull out their phone, unlock a bike via the FordPass app, and pedal off. The same app allows users to locate GoBike stations, Naturally, a dedicated GoBike app will allow more frequent riders to search for stations, buy passes, and monitor the amount of time remaining on their rental.

But what about the bike, you say? After all, this is The Truth About… never mind. Well, Ford Smart Mobility’s City Solutions team took its time developing the vehicle, consulting along the way with a number of local groups to pin down a design. Because of this, the GoBike fleet appears well suited to San Francisco’s Mustang-launching hills.

Riders will enjoy an adjustable, rain-resistant seat, a brake system contained within the frame, puncture-resistant tires, motion-activated lights, and a wide gear range. Just try and get up those inclines in an old 10-speed (bike).

Actually, if a competitor has it’s way, you won’t need to use those leg muscles much, if at all. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, bike-share startup Social Bikes hopes to muscle into Ford’s turf with 1,000 electric bicycles by the end of the year. The only thing holding the company back is a lack of a permit for stationless bike sharing (something the city’s municipal transportation agency hasn’t yet created, but it’s working on it).

Think about it: you wouldn’t have to pedal up hills, coasting down the other side is equally effortless, and you can lock the e-bike to any available bike rack instead of at a dedicated station. Hmm. Ford might have to turbocharge its bike game.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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15 Comments on “Ford’s Latest Venture Involves Rear-Wheel Drive and Zero Emissions...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The guy is thinking, “Kill me now!”

  • avatar
    threeer

    Have you peddled a Ford…lately??

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Christ on a bike, really?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    It’s only zero emissions if you didn’t get a bean burrito off of the taco truck for lunch.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    Seems like a stupid distraction to me.

    I guess Ford should also make smartphones.
    I hear there’s money in that and Millennials love their smart phones!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Distraction?

      tip: large companies have different departments which work on different business sectors. This isn’t “distracting” anyone from anything.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Some dude working on a bike in some back room may not. But the obsession with distancing themselves from the difficult task of developing and building and selling cars profitably, in favor of the easy one of selling “mobility” hype, sure does.

        Any two bit idiot can rent out bicycles. And heck, in SF nowadays, any two bit idiot can be a “mobility” startup, too! Too much of playing in that sandbox, at the expense of a singular focus on those things two bit idiots can’t as easily do, and before you know it, Ford is reduced to a bunch of two bit idiots, too.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “But the obsession with distancing themselves from the difficult task of developing and building and selling cars profitably, in favor of the easy one of selling “mobility” hype, sure does.”

          I’m not sure what makes you think this is what’s happening.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Ford will do what it believes improves share prices, hence executive bonuses, in the near future. Emphasis on near.

            Currently, nothing sells like hype to the “flush with freshprint” crowd. Who insist on pretending, for reasons of ego but against all realistic evidence, that what is currently “making money” in Silicon Valley, is not building technology nor much else; as most who try that, are all losing money hand over fist; but rather selling hype. About how all tomorrows feel-good parties, are going to be making money some time in the future. Just not now.

            Ford has exactly zero advantage over any old yahoo, in the bicycle rental business. And they know it, too. They have no interest in making money at at this. Not even from the most tenuous of possible “I rented a bike from those guys so now I’m gonna buy a truck from them” dream-on! linkups.

            Instead, the whole exercise, is about appearing to be in what is hawked as a hype “industry”, “mobility.” Rather than in that boring old real, useful, industry, automaking. Not because Ford ever expects to make money from all the guys who are going to be buying Ford branded “mobilities.” But solely because Ford expects their share price to rise from all the fresh print beneficiaries, that will be buying Ford paper, (not cars, not bikes), on account of it pretending to also believe the hype.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “rain-resistant seat”
    I’d be more worried about a seat resistant to what ever fluids may exit one’s anatomy close to that seat.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Really, Ford?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Bike sharing services never made much sense to me. Bikes are so cheap, why bother? And I don’t care how many gears it has, climbing SF’s hills is a lot of work. Now the electric bikes, that could get interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      There’s three basic markets as far as I can tell – tourists (and locals on a whim), people who need a “Last Mile” solution (can’t haul a bike on commuter rail generally), and people who’ve had one too many bikes stolen. In my area, it’s $90 for a yearly membership (which includes free use for any trip under a half hour) – that’s less than a month’s metro pass, and assuming you have a bike stolen every couple of years or so, you’re coming out ahead. Plus, bike maintenance is pretty negligible, but still, you’ll never have to shell out for the occasional tire, brake pads, or chain lube.

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    The headline of this article makes me want to invent a FWD bicycle.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Zero Emissions???????????

    Bullsh!t.

    Just the production of the bike will produce emissions.

    Then the farting of the rider.

    Maybe the rider should use DEF and have a DPF.

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