Ford Smart Mobility, the company Ford formed earlier this year to help design new transportation services, has made its first acquisition: the San Francisco crowdsourced shuttle app Chariot.
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"We're expanding our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, and partnering with cities on current and future transportation needs is the next major step," Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said in a statement. "We want to work with communities to offer even more transportation choices and solutions for people — for decades to come."
As part of that effort, Ford is also teaming up with major global cities, starting with San Francisco, to help "solve congestion issues and help people move more easily, today and in the future."
The Chariot acquisition, the terms of which were not disclosed, "will serve as the cornerstone for [Ford's] new global shuttle services business," which Ford expects to expand to at least five additional unnamed markets in the next 18 months.
Launched in 2014, Chariot currently operates nearly 100 shuttles along 28 routes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The routes are crowd-sourced based on rider demand, but in the future they'll operate dynamically, Ford said, using algorithms to map efficient routes that best serve communities' real-time mobility needs.
A private study for Ford conducted by KPMG found that urban congestion could be reduced by up to 25 fewer vehicles for every one of these "dynamic" shuttles placed into service during peak travel times.
"Chariot's mission from day one has been to solve the commute by providing a mass transit solution that is fast, reliable and affordable for people living in today's cities," Chariot cofounder and CEO Ali Vahabzadeh said in a statement. "We started our Chariot service with Ford's 15-passenger vehicles and continue to use Ford Transit shuttles to this day. We couldn't be more thrilled to be Ford Smart Mobility's first acquisition and leverage its leadership in transportation to fulfill Chariot's goals worldwide."