Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and Lyft are teaming up: The Blue Oval and the fast-growing ride-hailing company said they will work together to develop self-driving vehicles optimized for use in ride-hailing service.
Ford is the latest in a growing list of companies to team up with Lyft on projects related to autonomous vehicles. Here's what we know, and what it means for the key players.
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What the companies said about the deal
Ford and Lyft each announced the deal in separate blog posts. This paragraph from Lyft's post captures the gist of the deal:
Sherif Marakby, who leads Ford's autonomous-vehicles program, went into a little more depth in a post on Medium:
Marakby said Ford is hoping to refine its ability to connect smoothly with a ride-hailing dispatch platform, and to better understand what kind of infrastructure it will need to develop to service and maintain a fleet of autonomous vehicles in ride-hailing service. Ford will also use the data it collects with Lyft to figure out which cities would most benefit from a self-driving vehicle service, Markaby said.
What it means for Lyft: Another big-name self-driving partnership
Ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies has its own in-house self-driving research and development effort. Lyft doesn't. Instead, Lyft offers other companies that are working on self-driving technology the opportunity to run test vehicles in its service, accumulating miles and data in real-world service and learning how Lyft's dispatching systems work.
The other companies that have signed up to test self-driving vehicles with Lyft include:
- Massachusetts-based start-up nuTonomy, which said in June that it would put several of its test-fleet vehicles into service with Lyft.
- Indian automaker Tata Motors' (NYSE: TTM) U.K.-based luxury-vehicle subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover, which invested $25 million in Lyft in June.
- Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Waymo subsidiary, which has a large fleet of test vehicles well-suited for ride-hailing service (they're modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans).
Of course, General Motors (NYSE: GM) is almost certainly in the mix here as well. GM invested $500 million in Lyft in 2016, and it has said it will soon begin building a large fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles that could be destined for Lyft service.
What it means for Ford: A shift in strategy underway?
This deal is another sign that new Ford CEO Jim Hackett might be ramping up the company's efforts in advanced technologies, including self-driving. Ford recently announced a new partnership with Chinese automaker Anhui Zotye Automobile to build electric vehicles in China, and there have been other moves -- including the hiring of Marakby away from Uber Technologies -- that suggest Hackett is putting more emphasis on advanced technologies.
Hackett is expected to reveal his plan for Ford in a presentation to Wall Street analysts next week. We'll learn much more then.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A and C shares) and Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.