Ford, GM take steps to build mobility, self-driving units
GM buys automation startup Cruise, Ford creates its own Silicon Valley mobility technology unit
General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have both announced moves geared at taking advantage of the tech world's growing influence in the car industry.
Ford will create a Silicon Valley-based unit devoted to emerging mobility services, including car-sharing and ride-hailing.
GM has bought Cruise Automation, a San Francisco self-driving vehicle startup.
- GM plans push into self-driving cars, ride-sharing
- General Motors invests $500M in Lyft ride-hailing company
GM said it plans to use Cruise's technology and its people to accelerate plans to launch autonomous vehicles, potentially as part of ride-sharing fleets.
The Big 3 automakers are facing a huge shift in car-buying patterns as fleet purchases diminish in response to ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber.
- Autonomous-car technology makes room for distracted drivers
- NAIAS 2016: Detroit auto show, where big chrome and Silicon Valley almost meet
And self-driving technology is perceived to be a wave of the future, with automakers racing tech giants such as Google in a bid to develop viable automated vehicle that will win consumer acceptance.
Ford said it created its Smart Mobility LLC to advance developments in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics.
Seeking tech partners
It will be seeking technology partners in Silicon Valley and building on work already under way at Ford, according to a company news release.
By yearend, it plans to have a fleet of autonomous vehicles in operation on roads in California, Arizona and Michigan, testing connectivity in communities and even in snow.
And it is developing mobility services that will help consumers find their way through traffic, locate parking and hail ride-sharing services.
Jim Hackett, former Steelcase vice chairman and CEO, and a member of the Ford board of directors is chair of Ford Smart Mobility and a CEO will be named hortly.
GM has also been investing in mobility and ride-sharing services, including taking a $500 million stake in ride-hailing company Lyft Inc.
It is forming a new car-sharing brand operation called Maven and working on autonomous vehicles. It plans to invest and expand Cruise to build more presence in emerging technologies.