Ford has spun off its own Smart Mobility subsidiary to handle some of the expanded responsibilities it has decided to take on as technology and society pull one another ever quicker into the future. Ford Smart Mobility, which the automaker says is "Designed to compete like a startup company," is continuing as a new, focused entity the sorts of projects the automaker has been introducing in recent years. It will base its operations in Ford's home of Dearborn, Michigan and, appropriately, the tech haven of Palo Alto, California.
In this vein, Ford will continue on projects like vehicle autonomy and connectivity. It will expand on its FordPass Marketplace, which offers services that help drivers find parking, borrow and share vehicles and add remote functions to their cars. We'll see services like predictive parking (to help find open spaces, much like BMW recently announced) and on-demand shuttles. We'll see a lot of data-driven programs meant to make getting from one place to another easier whether by car or other forms of transportation.
The overall idea is to make getting around easier for everybody, whether or not they own a Ford or even drive at all. As innovative as it may seem, taking on a tech-focused "Smart Mobility" portfolio is increasingly necessary for automakers. Look at companies like BMW and its carsharing collaboration with Sixt, Daimler's ties to Car2go, and even previous efforts by Ford itself.
Expect to see apps, services, and experimental trials from Ford Smart Mobility as it helps to bring the brand into the future's ever-changing technological landscape. Projects from Ford will likely mirror or build upon those from Apple, Google, Tesla, and other tech companies – established and startups alike — hopefully with brand new ideas of its own. Ideally, Ford Smart Mobility can help make travel safer, easier, greener and more accessible to those who need it. Coming from a longstanding American car company that people know and trust might just make progress seem less overwhelming to technophobes, too.