While automakers are understandably focused on the future of passenger car mobility, the larger picture of our transportation infrastructure goes far beyond four wheels and a motor. At the Consumer Electronics Show, Ford has announced a Smart Mobility initiative to identify the mobility problems of tomorrow, with 25 initial projects launching around the world in 2015.
“Even as we showcase connected cars and share our plans for autonomous vehicles, we are here at CES with a higher purpose,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields. “We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company – and, ultimately, to change the way the world moves just as our founder Henry Ford did 111 years ago.”
The projects are designed to look at a multitude of problems facing the world today, from climate change and excessive population growth to a return to urban centers. Car sharing, locating parking spots, and rapid EV charging are just a few of the projects Ford is undertaking to address the global issues affecting us all. That said, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary at work here either. Car sharing, parking spot apps, using data to deliver a better driving experience is hardly cutting-edge thinking. I’d rather see Ford looking into mobility solutions outside the sphere of the automobile.
Then again, maybe it isn’t mobility Ford is after, but technology. This marks yet another automaker making a major announcement at CES, rather than the Detroit Auto Show, indicating once again that at least some car companies want to be seen more as tech companies in the 21st century. Ford has been trying to position itself as a technological leader, and in many regards it is. Will these expanded mobility experiments lead Ford to businesses other than just building vehicles?