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Ford announces expansion of Smart Mobility plan at Mobile World Congress

Ford’s president and CEO, Mark Fields, has told the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Spain that the company will continue to expand its Ford Smart Mobility plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, and data and analytics, as well as announcing the arrival of the new FordPass customer experience platform for Europe later this year.

Fields’s keynote at MWC in Barcelona focused on Ford’s transition from an auto maker to an automotive and mobility company through Ford Smart Mobility – the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, and data and analytics. Fields confirmed new partners for FordPass, which debuts this year in Europe, including fuel company BP and Mobile City, a leading mobile parking payment company. Parkopedia, the global database for parking spaces, allows all FordPass members to search for parking, based on location, cost, availability and user ratings. In addition, as an on-street parking payment provider, Mobile City will help to provide a more seamless parking experience, by enabling drivers to pay fees through FordPass. As well as cash-free parking, the system supports a future that could see members’ cars park themselves in off-street facilities.

As part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company is working to expand the range of carsharing and parking services offered in European cities and towns. In London, with its new GoPark pilot, the company is building a predictive parking system capable of directing drivers to streets where they are most likely to find a space. A group of residents from the borough of Islington have volunteered to take part, with their cars being equipped with plug-in devices to give live data for traffic and parking conditions. The pilot includes both Ford and non-Ford vehicles. Also in London, Ford’s on-demand GoDrive carsharing pilot is now trialling on-street parking on certain streets. Since launching last year, the service has expanded to 25 hubs across the city, each with guaranteed parking, at locations that include London Waterloo railway station and London City Airport. In Germany, bookings for Ford Carsharing, designed to serve small and medium sized cities as well as large towns, were up by 76% in 2015, with the service now offered at 170 locations across the country.

“As we look to the future, it is clear we are on the cusp of a revolution in mobility, from carsharing to autonomous driving to the customer experience,” Fields said. “Technology and innovation provide us with the opportunity to address these trends, and to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves. This all-new platform that we are launching in Europe later this year is really about listening to people’s needs, and developing ways to help them move better. It’s also about convenience, connecting consumers with the world and making it all incredibly easy.”

Fields also confirmed that Ford is tripling its investment in self-driving technologies, as the company seeks to deliver autonomous capability that does not require driver input as defined by the SAE International as Level 4 of automation. At this level of capability, autonomous vehicles will likely be offered first in climates that support optimal sensor performance, and in areas that have been mapped in high resolution 3D.

Ken Washington, vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, noted, “We are committed to making autonomous vehicles available for millions of people. Within well-defined areas, and with favorable environmental conditions, we predict that fully autonomous driving will be possible within four years, and that autonomous vehicles will play a significant role in making travel safer, more enjoyable, and more accessible.”

For video highlights of Mark Fields' keynote speech click here

February 23, 2016

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