Ford's Chariot Program Didn't Last Very Long

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
fords chariot program didnt last very long

Chariot, Ford’s app-based shuttle service, has announced it will throw in the towel due to the rapidly changing “mobility landscape” of major cities. When the company launched in 2014 with Jim Hackett at the helm, it joined a bundle of “microtransit” firms hoping to undercut brands like Uber while providing a viable alternative to public transportation.

Ford acquired the company in March of 2016 for a reported $65 million, proving that not every mobility firm can be a golden goose. It snagged Hackett and made him Ford CEO roughly a year later, where he continued to oversee Chariot as chairman of the automaker’s Smart Mobility subsidiary. Unfortunately, the service is no longer deemed sustainable.

On the upside of things, this ought to put a few coins in the jar labeled “Restructuring Program” at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters.

Chariot, which serves nearly a dozen cities, conveyed the news via its blog, having unveiled a revised holiday schedule just four weeks earlier.

From Chariot:

In today’s mobility landscape, the wants and needs of customers and cities are changing rapidly. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause Chariot’s riders and our enterprise customers. We are committed to ensuring our customers are aware of the decision and have time to make alternative transportation arrangements.

We are truly grateful to our commuters, enterprise customers, and partners for your support over the past five years. Chariot was built on a commitment to help reduce congestion, ease the commute and improve quality of life in cities, and since our start, we have provided our customers with more than 3 million rides. In addition, we helped Ford build their mobility business, and their experience with Chariot continues to inform their mobility efforts and design decisions for the future.

While the company has been active in several major cities (including New York and London), and appeared to be in good health, these types of services haven’t fared particularly well. Leap Transit permanently parked its luxury buses just three months after its 2015 launch, while Bridj moved is shuttle service out of the U.S. in early 2017 to focus on Australia.

Friday, January 25th will be the last day of Chariot services on commuter routes in the United Kingdom. The same will be true in the United States exactly one week later. All operations are said to cease by the end of March.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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2 of 17 comments
  • Redseca2 Redseca2 on Jan 13, 2019

    I rode Chariot to work and back regularly in San Francisco since soon after they started. It was a great alternate to public transit for getting to and from my job in the center of the financial district. There you are looking at nearly $500 a month to park your car. But the minute that Ford took over you knew it was doomed. It was never going to return the magnitude of profits that Ford wants in its endeavors. Chariot could have supported its employees salary wise and returned a small profit to owners, but that return was always going to be equivalent to one coin laundromat's monthly returns for each Chariot Route's monthly returns. You could send your kids to college, but it better be state college. They had low prices for the early and late commuters. Late being after 6:15 PM, about when I leave work. For my evening ride I paid $3.80, about a dollar more than a city bus.

  • Open country Open country on Jan 14, 2019

    Chariot advertised heavily in my area towards the end of 2016, actually on the street outside my downtown office building. I ended up collecting multiple free ride and discount promo codes with the hopes of trying it out one day. After 2+ years, there are still only two routes in my metro area. One heads directly south (my commute is North), and another is a closed-availabilty program for a local tech company's employees only. TL:DR; I would have tried this if they ever went anywhere I needed to go.

  • Bobbysirhan I'd like to look at all of the numbers. The eager sheep don't seem too upset about the $1,800 delta over home charging, suggesting that the total cost is truly obscene. Even spending Biden bucks, I don't need $1,800 of them to buy enough gasoline to cover 15,000 miles a year. Aren't expensive EVs supposed to make up for their initial expense, planet raping resource requirements, and the child slaves in the cobalt mines by saving money on energy? Stupid is as stupid does.
  • Slavuta Civic EX - very competent car. I hate the fact of CVT and small turbo+DI. But it is a good car. Good rear seat. Fix the steering and keep goingBut WRX is just a different planet.
  • SPPPP This rings oh so very hollow. To me, it sounds like the powers that be at Ford don't know which end is up, and therefore had to invent a new corporate position to serve as "bad guy" for layoffs and eventual scapegoat if (when) the quality problems continue.
  • Art Vandelay Tasos eats $#!t and puffs peters
  • Kwik_Shift Imagine having trying to prove that the temporary loss of steering contributed to your plunging off a cliff or careening through a schoolyard?