13 Mar 19

Ford expands City One Challenge

Ford announced it is expanding its City One Challenge to three additional US cities, Detroit, Indianapolis and Austin, Texas. Later this year the challenge will move beyond the US. 

Ford’s competition to crowdsource mobility solutions was originally called the City of Tomorrow Challenge. The carmaker challenges residents of the participating cities to develop new mobility designs, apps and innovations to make cities more pedestrian- and bike-friendly and/or enable smart transportation choices. 

The winning solutions will be pilot tested, therefore Ford frees up $100,000 for the company that can test the new solution. Additionally Ford expands its National Street Service pilot programme that aims to help citizens engage with cities on reimagining how streets and public spaces are designed. 

The competition was launched last year in Miami, Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh. Among the winners were Safe Shift, an app for safe transportation for night shift workers, PikMyKid, a mobile platform for school pickups, and Iomob, a MaaS provider. 

Beyond carmaker

The expansion of Ford’s city challenge is remarkable considering its core activity as a carmaker. After the acquisition – and in the meantime already closure – of shuttle company Chariot, and of scooter company Spin, and various partnership for bike-sharing in San Francisco among others, it might become obvious that Ford is expanding its identity from carmaker to mobility provider. 

In addition,two of the new citites cities, Detroit and Indianapolis have strong carmaker roots as well, and have nearby universities working on autonomous vehicles. Hence, Ford’s expanding focus to the entire mobility market, might not only affect its own carmaker identity. 

The challenge runs for about 8 months, and is supposed to expand to other non-US cities, so let’s see how Ford will contribute to the urban mobility of tomorrow, with more than only cars.

Image: Detroit, one of the new City One Challenge cities, is also the home of the old Michigan Central Station that Ford plans to turn into its mobility lab.

Authored by: Fien Van den steen