Ford closes shuttle service Chariot
Ford decided to shut down its shuttle service Chariot, provided by Ford Transit vans in various big America cities, by the end of March 2019.
The Silicon Valley-based shuttle service, Chariot, was bought by Ford in 2016 as part of the company’s new Smart Mobility vision. After the acquisition Ford expanded the San Francisco-only service to other American cities, Austin, Texas, New York, Seattle and Detroit, and even to the UK.
No specific reason was given, except for the company’s vision to adapt its mobility offer according to the rapidly changing mobility needs of its customers. Streetblog NYC wrote in August 2018 that Chariot NYC was an expensive failure, showing that each of its NYC Vans were averaging just five riders a day.
Smart Mobility Vision
Yet, the end of Ford’s shuttle service does not mean the end of Ford’s Smart Mobility Vision. Ford’s CEO and former chairman of Ford’s Smart Mobility subsidiary, Jim Hackett, expressed the need to develop smart cities with vehicles and other mobility forms to carry passengers and goods around, in a cheap and quick way.
The expansion of Ford out of the automotive-only mobility vision can be seen in its move into other transportation forms. On the wave of shared and micromobility in cities around the globe, Ford invested in various initiatives of this kind, like the Ford Go Bikes and Ford City Bikes as part of bike sharing initiatives in many American cities. Ford also joined the recent e-scooter hype and acquired e-scooter company Spin.
All together, they are part of Ford’s multimodal mobility offer, in which Chariot could have fit seamlessly, but is about to stop now. Whether new similar services are about to be launched by the company is not yet known, but the above-mentioned initiatives suggest that Ford is not only pursuing a privately-owned-car offer.
With or without Chariot, Ford is surfing on the wave of shared and new mobility forms. Hopefully, to be continued.