By on January 26, 2018

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Not to be outdone by General Motors’ excursion into autonomy, Ford Motor Company has announced it will purchase two mobility startups: Autonomic, which makes self-driving software; and TransLoc, which makes transit apps.

While Ford says it made a significant investment into the California-based Autonomic last year, it’s now rolling the company into a new team for developing mobility business models called “Ford X.”

This is familiar territory, as the Blue Oval also promised to put around $1 billion into Argo AI last year. The artificial intelligence startup is supposed to help Detroit automaker develop a “virtual driver system” for future autonomous fleets. But will the company’s strategy of acquiring businesses work as it hopes to reshape itself into a different kind of carmaker? Ford thinks so. 

Questioned about the plans by the Detroit Free Press, Ford Mobility president Marcy Klevorn said the acquisitions definitely accelerate the automaker’s strategy to “buy, build or partner” its way to self-driving goals.

“We believe the integration of the technology and talent from Autonomic and TransLoc into our Mobility team will further bolster our ability to deliver robust solutions for personal owners, fleet operators, and cities, with speed and at scale,” Klevorn explained.

Ford also announced Thursday that it wants to expand its Chariot commuter shuttle service to cities worldwide. Chariot currently only exists in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, New York City, and Columbus, Ohio. Still, which cities will be chosen were not disclosed, nor were details on the purchasing terms for TransLoc and Autonomic.

We do know Ford is shifting key staff into positions that will help ensure its business strategy is executed in a way that would probably make Ford’s mobility-obsessed former CEO Mark Fields proud.

Sunny Madra (the CEO and cofounder of Autonomic) will join Ford as vice president of Ford X, Brett Wheatley (director of Ford Marketing, Sales and Service Fitness Transformation) will become vice president of Mobility Marketing and Growth, Rich Strader is now vice president of Mobility Platforms and Products, and Marion Harris (chief financial officer of Ford Credit) shall become vice president of  Ford’s Mobility Business Group.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]


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12 Comments on “Enter Ford X: Automaker Buying Two More Mobility Companies...”

  • avatar

    There’s going to be nothing “robust” about owning an auto-pod, Ford X or otherwise.

  • avatar

    I look at this the same way I look at Porsche making stupid looking crossover utilities: it funds the good stuff.

  • avatar

    Well I hope they make innovation and something robust by that invest

  • avatar

    Stupid Ford, obviously Ford blockchain is the future!

  • avatar

    Well good because they don’t need more F150 plastic rectangle re-designers or business-as-usual CEOs.

    At the moment I think Ford would be the most vulnerable to a hostile takeover if the great truck boom ever wanes as their profit margins appear to be the product of manufacturing basically the same product year after year just cheaper.

    • 0 avatar

      Bring on the takeover! At a P/E of 10.5 and a 5% dividend, I’ll happily wait for the supposed takeover.

      They had to throw some money on the table for autonomous vehicles, hell, you’d think GM is about to deploy thousands of driverless cars everywhere. Even Mary knows that’s not the case. It’s the need to publicly keep up with the neighbors.

      Poor Tesla, a car drives up the a** of a fire truck while they continue to charge $5k for “AutoPilot”…yeah.

      These dreams of a driverless vehicle are just that, dreams. I don’t expect anything in the next 5 years that will be considered as “AutoPilot” (just love that name, so over the top).

  • avatar
    Mike G

    It’s an indictment of Ford’s culture that even with huge resources of engineers and money they can’t develop this innovation and expertise in-house.

    • 0 avatar

      Give me an example of a company that has this “innovation and expertise” in-house. I’m hard pressed to find one.

      The MobileEye/ Tesla breakup comes to mind…yet this was a step forward.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s best to watch the success and failure of others. Rather than steal the success, pay for it. Then use your own expertise to further develop and scale in a way the smaller company couldn’t.

      Do you think other automakers are doing it any differently? It’s just a matter of who gets the articles.

  • avatar

    Ford is so screwed.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    :poop emoji:

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