Chariot Taught Ford a Multi-Million Dollar ‘Lesson’

Ford says it has learned a lesson about mobility solutions, albeit a $65M lesson being the cost of the collapse of its ill-fated Chariot acquisition.

The urban ride-sharing scheme, operating Ford Transit mini-buses in several US cities and in London, will cease plying its trade at the beginning of February. However, Marcy Klevorn, executive vice-president and president of mobility at Ford, says the exercise was far from a wasted effort.

Speaking exclusively to TU-Automotive at the North American International Auto Show 2019, Klevorn discussed the commercial aspect of the business, where Chariot branched out into the corporate market providing dedicated shuttle services to businesses, a service that will also be wound up in March. She said: “One of the gifts that Chariot gave us was the development of the service bringing knowledge to our business especially with Ford Commercial Solutions which are a suite of products for our fleet customers. Chariot was the first fleet that we launched and we have learned a lot and the business would not be as far along as it is without us being able to work with the Chariot fleet.”

Klevorn said the second major lesson centered around the consumer experience aspect of the service. “We also learned a lot about customer preferences, how to work with the city to get the permits to operate and those relationships are invaluable as we develop more mobility solutions. Finally, we’ve learned that customer preferences will change over time and we have to be able to evolve our mobility portfolio at a different rate to the portfolio an OEM usually has.”

She also stressed that the failure of Chariot will not end Ford’s exploration of other mobility solutions. Klevorn said: “To give an example of how things are evolving, we recently purchased a scooter company called Spin because the customer has spoken. Scooters have more than 240,000 rides a day generating $1M in revenue a day. Scooters reached 10 million rides faster than Uber and Lyft – Lyft took two years while scooters took just one year.”

She stressed that, however Ford’s mobility future strategy unfolds, its focus must be on providing services that the consumer demands. Klevorn concluded: “So, because the customer spoke, we have added this to our portfolio. We are looking at other opportunities that are out there but the mindset is asking: ‘how do we keep evolving an meet customer demands and strengthen our relationships with cities?’

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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