Is Ford still a car company? Or is it a tech company? Perhaps the best word to describe Ford is increasingly as a mobility company, as the House that Henry Built is increasingly looking beyond simply building cars and trucks to serve its customers.
The latest new idea from Ford Smart Mobility Plan is the Handle on Mobility electric bike (e-bike) experiment, which combines with traditional personal and public transportation options to provide greater mobility in urban areas. Two different smart “info cycles” integrated with smartphone capabilities and internet connectivity providing not just navigation and confidence, but a suite of safety features meant to keep riders safe and comfortable while out sharing the road.
The two bikes, called the MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro, were the result of crowd-submitted designs that integrate many asked-for features, including a navigation system that can utilize public transit options, provide charging station locations, and even weather and parking cost information. Vibrating handlebars let the rider known when and where to make a turn, and turn signals are triggered automatically. Electric pedal assist makes going up hills a breeze, and a “No Sweat” mode ensures you can arrive at your destination feeling fresh, should the need be.
Another really neat feature is compatibility with Ford’s SYNC infotainment system. Should the bikes be stored in a Ford vehicle, they’re battery level will be displayed in the smartphone app. Yes, you can even charge your Ford e-bike in your Ford vehicle. The MoDe: Pro is aimed more at bike couriers wanting to make deliveries, while the MoDe:Me is easily foldable and stowable, aiming to help commuters cover the “last mile” they’d otherwise have to walk.
Is this the future of urban mobility? Perhaps, though Ford is hedging its bets with plenty of other experiments, like car sharing, home EV charging, and literally dozens of other ideas that seek to connect people and transportation in new and imaginative ways. This isn’t the first e-bike that Ford has built either, which seems to imply this is more than just a whim. What role e-bikes play in the greater scheme of things is of much debate, but there’s definitely seems to be a growing trend towards battery-powered cycles. Maybe your next new Ford will come with an e-bike too?