As automakers are expecting competition from the tech sector as companies such as Apple (AAPL) and Google are expanding their R&D into the auto sector, Ford (F)CEO Mark Fields foresees technology and autonomous vehicles as key to the company’s future.
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“We’re transforming ourselves from an auto company to an auto and mobility company and really embracing that and embracing the technological change, but also at the same time keeping focused on our core business of building great cars and trucks but also really looking at these mobility options and services going forward and seeing how we can play a part in serving customers’ lives with that,” Fields said during an interview with FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
Fields also addressed the company’s strategy on the autonomous vehicle sector.
“In autonomous vehicles, we’re a leader in what we call semi-autonomous technologies, or driver-assist technologies… things that will keep you in your lane, those type of things. And at the same time, we’re doing a lot of research and developing into a fully autonomous vehicle [provider] in a defined area and we’ve been working at this for quite some time now and we’re continuing to work at that going forward.”
Fields weighed in on the dispute between Apple and the FBI as well.
“Clearly we don’t collect data, only if customers opt-in and allow us to do that,” he said. “And our approach as a company very simply is we take the security and the privacy of our customers’ data very, very seriously. We view customers as owning their own data. We want to be trusted stewards of that and we are committed to make sure it’s protected and we’re watching the situation very closely and what’s playing out right now.”
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Fields continued: “Well, as we’ve done in our business in the past, we’ve been asked in certain situations for [information on]crashes and things of that nature, where we’ve been basically from a legal standpoint asked to give data, and we do that. But in this case, in terms of the privacy of data, clearly it’s a big issue.”
Fields also discussed the impact of companies such as Uber, Apple, Google and Tesla (TSLA) on the auto sector.
“From our standpoint going forward, we’re going to have our core business which is designing and developing great cars and trucks, and let’s face it Maria, during our lifetime, a majority of the population of the world is going to continue to buy and drive and own vehicles the way they have for many years. At the same time, we’re also going to see the growth of the access instead of ownership, particularly in urban areas, and particularly for Millennials.”