Ford's Latest Venture Involves Rear-Wheel Drive and Zero Emissions
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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