Wheels Come Off Ford’s Chariot

Ford has called time on its Chariot urban mobility solution just five years after acquiring the company for $65M.

The service, which uses Ford Transit passenger carrying LCVs, operates in five US cities and London, England, and will continue to do so until February 1, 2019. Its principal service was to give up to 14-passengers at any one time a service that was a hybrid between a taxi and a bus, running specific high frequency routes. Rides are booked through an app and the passenger guaranteed a seat.

However, the service’s chief challenge was that it competed with the two established city services of taxi and public bus or tram. In operation, Chariot was cheaper than a taxi but less convenient being locked into set routes and more comfortable that the bus or tram but much more expensive.

It also found the additional operating costs to cover longer transit trips from outlying airports would squeeze margins too much to make it commercially viable. Ford did try to diversify the service by providing businesses with dedicated shuttle services but this, too, will be wound up in March.

In a company blog, Chariot said: “In today’s mobility landscape, the wants and needs of customers and cities are changing rapidly. As those changes continue, it has become clear that the mobility services delivered by Chariot over the past five years will not be a sustainable solution going forward.”

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

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