In an unexpected move, car giant Ford has moved into the bike sharing sector, working in partnership with hire operator Motivate. The new hire product, named Ford GoBike, will launch next year in the US and will start with a fleet of 7,000 bicycles.
This, along with a new team working to overcome localised transport challenges, and the acquisition of a crowd-sourcing shuttle service, sees the manufacturer move into innovative territory – and not all car-related.
Motivate currently runs a dozen bike sharing schemes in North America, including CitiBike in New York and Bike Share Toronto. They’ve recently moved into Australia too, and now run Melbourne Bike Share. The scheme already in San Francisco will become Ford GoBike, and will expand by x10 to reach 7,000 cycles.
Motivate CEO Jay Walder said: “A transportation revolution is coming to the Bay Area. This unique partnership with Ford shows that bike share is no longer alternative transportation; it is central to creating smart, on-demand mobility that represents our values for equity and sustainability. Thanks to the partnership of Metropolitan Transportation Commission, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, bike share will soon be available for all in the Bay Area.”
So what are Ford looking to get out of cyclists? They say they’ll be using data collected from the journeys to ‘build an interconnected real-time network’, which one day ‘could include real-time data such as weather conditions, usage patterns and bike availability’. Impressive stuff!
Ford president and CEO Mark Fields also spoke on the deal, saying “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. For more than 100 years, Ford has been part of the community and the trusted source for automotive transportation. Now, we want to work with communities to offer even more transportation choices and solutions for people – for decades to come”.
It certainly seems a good opportunity to gather data and focus on end-to-end journeys. What do you think – does the brand sponsoring or owning a bike have any impact on whether or not you’d ride it?
Author Lex Barber