News


Ford to open Smart Mobility subsidiary in Palo Alto

Move follows research center opened last year

Car maker Ford Motor Co. will open a subsidiary to invest in mobility services in Palo Alto, the company announced on March 11.

Ford Smart Mobility LLC will design, build and invest in new mobility services such as driver assist technologies and autonomous vehicles, and will collaborate with other technology companies and startups to develop new products. Jim Hackett, former Steelcase vice chairman and CEO, will leave Ford's board of directors to become chairman of the new mobility-services subsidiary.

Ford opened a research and development lab, the Ford Palo Alto Research and Innovation Center, in January 2015 at Stanford Research Park. The company announced plans to hire 125 researchers, software engineers and data scientists by the end of 2015.

Ford wants to position itself as a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles and customer experience and data and analytics, the company said. So far, it has made progress in a number of areas. Ford developed a vehicle connectivity entertainment and communications system and SYNC Connect, which lets vehicle owners remotely access automotive features such as a remote start, unlocking doors, checking fuel level or locating a parked vehicle on a smartphone. The product also enables drivers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver's seat.

Ford has conducted more than 30 global mobility experiments in the past 14 months to gain insight into changing consumer transportation preferences. Pilot programs currently under way include a predictive parking system in London capable of directing drivers to streets where they are most likely to find a space; a car-sharing program in London that provides vehicles with guaranteed parking at busy locations, such as London City Airport; and Dynamic Shuttle, a program at Ford's Dearborn, Michigan, campus that allows employees and visitors to summon point-to-point rides on-demand, the company said.

Ford plans to have the largest test fleet of autonomous vehicles in the country this year, with on-road vehicles in California, Arizona and Michigan. The company will test autonomous vehicles in the snow, officials said.

The company is also tripling its investment in engineering during the next five years in driver-assist and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies, such as adaptive cruise control, active park assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping aid, pedestrian detection, Pro Trailer Backup Assist and vehicle-to-vehicle connection technology.

"Ford Smart Mobility and expanding into mobility services are significant growth opportunities. Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue. Jim Hackett is the right visionary leader -- with extensive experience in business development and design -- to take us into the mobility services business in the future," Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company, said in the statement.

The subsidiary will also operate in Dearborn, Michigan, as well as Palo Alto, the company said.

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Marvin Frackt
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 14, 2016 at 10:09 am

Jim Hackett will do great in achieving the goal. He is an intrapreneur and excellent manager of people.


2 people like this
Posted by Pangloss
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Gollee, this could finally put our town on the map!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Jim Phillips
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Mar 14, 2016 at 1:50 pm


This is good news. If Mr. Hackett has not connected with Avenidas, I recommend that he do so very soon.


9 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2016 at 8:15 am

The article does not mention how many more employees will be driving in and out of Palo Alto this year.
(Maybe this should be a part of every report from now on...?)

Will Ford be participating in -- and helping to fund-- the city's traffic management association (to help mitigate the congestion caused by locating here?)


8 people like this
Posted by I wish we were Manhattan
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 15, 2016 at 8:31 am

Cheryls questions are irrelevant and out of order. The company is running a legal business in the city. How their workers commute is not the business of pasz.if cherry is really interested she should contact the company directly.


4 people like this
Posted by Municipalist
a resident of University South
on Mar 15, 2016 at 8:15 pm

"How their workers commute is not the business of pasz"

Naive Neo-Libertarian dogma notwithstanding, how workers commute to jobs in Palo Alto is the business of every resident. Those commuters are not consenting adults acting in private, they consume public resources like roads and sidewalks and water and sewer and cost us all money.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Since they have something to direct London drivers to where they can find space for parking, perhaps they can do something to help Palo Alto drivers know whether and where there is space in a garage before they enter!

We desperately need some help with parking technology!


Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Goodbitz
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Smart Mobility, is it? Makes me wonder what kind of mobility Old Man Ford and his offspring have been peddling for the past century.


1 person likes this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2016 at 10:08 pm

@Municipalist

Somehow I doubt you'd be pleased if your commute choices or any other minutiae of your life that may affect others had to get some sort of approval...


1 person likes this
Posted by Municipalist
a resident of University South
on Mar 15, 2016 at 10:51 pm

"@Municipalist Somehow I doubt you'd be pleased if your commute choices or any other minutiae of your life that may affect others had to get some sort of approval..."

I had to get government approval up front to drive my car to school, to work, back home, to Safeway, to the beach, ... . They call it a driver's license. I was thrilled to get it. You?


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2016 at 9:21 am

@Municipalist

Witty. I'm pretty sure these new auto commuters will also be licensed, so I'd suggest saving your concern for something more appropriate.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2016 at 9:21 am

@Municipalist

Witty. I'm pretty sure these new auto commuters will also be licensed, so I'd suggest saving your concern for something more appropriate.


Like this comment
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2016 at 10:29 am

I don't understand why the city is not banning Ford from opening this center.

Why aren't all the local groups up in arms.

Why isn't Palo Alto working to get them to locate in some other city?

Are they hiring ONLY Palo Alto residents? We don't want any increase in commuters. Is there a pledge that all the employees will live in town? And if not, they will all take public transit?

You can't have it both ways. Always complaining about commuters, traffic, too many businesses. Too many outsiders. As soon as a new business says it is coming, everyone cheers and roles over and says how wonderful it is.

/marc


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 67 comments | 2,144 views

Global Warming Diet
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,279 views

Couples: "Taming Your Gremlin" by Richard Carson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,147 views

Preparing for kindergarten
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 633 views

 

Pre-registration ends today!

​On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More