As cities become more crowded, owning a car is less feasible, a trend that automakers would like to ignore. Not carmaker Ford. "We can't just keep putting more and more cars on the road," Ford's Erica Klampfl said at MIT's EmTech 2015. In January, Ford opened a new Research and Innovation Center in Silicon Valley and launched a handful of experiments that confront this issue head on. Last summer it announced its third and most advanced e-bike iteration. It also entered the car-sharing economy, letting customers with Ford Credit--financed vehicles in six U.S. cities earn up to $10,000 a year by renting out their cars on an hourly basis through a partnership with Getaround. The company knows it can't stop the trend of car-sharing, but it might as well learn from it. The six-month pilot program ended in November, and Ford is mining the data for takeaways to inform its future not as an automotive company, but as a mobility company. Ford is also working on developing an autonomous car and has invested $4.5 billion in electric vehicles in the next five years.
The company's competitive advantage in 2016:
They're ahead of the curve in embracing the future of car sales. It's the No. 1 brand in vehicle sales in the U.S. It has an already existing base of loyal customers and an established brand. Knowledge from companies that have tried this already, pitfalls of Uber and Lyft. Also, it's no more than a pilot, so not a lot riding on it.
The biggest challenges standing in this company's way in 2016:
Avoiding the pitfall that snagged GM's car-share program RelayRides, launched in 2011: People don't want short trips, they want to rent a car for a few days.
What to look out for:
Results from its ride-sharing pilot study. Ford said it has been partnering with 3-D printing company Carbon3D to create bumper parts and other products from UV curable resins through a process called Continuous Liquid Interface Production.
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2013: 27% of U.S. workforce are minorities, 22% female
Globally salaried workforce: 74% male, 26% female