- Ford Motor Company announced it has acquired San Francisco-based dockless e-scooter company Spin. In a blog post, Spin's founders said the company will "continue to operate as a standalone business within Ford Smart Mobility, poised to expand aggressively."
- The automaker plans to help expand Spin's network to more than 100 markets in North America over the next 18 months, according to Reuters. Spin currently operates in 14 cities and campuses, including its newest market, Detroit.
- "The number of mobility options available to people has risen dramatically in recent years," Sunny Madra, Vice President of Ford X, wrote in a blog post. "The fast-paced, often experimental mobility sector requires businesses to keep up with agile and adaptable customers. At Ford, the products and services we offer need to reflect these changes."
While there were virtually no murmurs of an acquisition leading up to this announcement, this deal is hardly shocking considering the growing trend of consolidation within the shared mobility industry — particularly among car companies and dockless scooter and bike operators. Earlier this year, Lyft acquired bike-share company Motivate, while Uber purchased Jump and made a lofty investment in Lime.
Ford took a strategic approach to its acquisition by selecting a dockless operator that "aligns well with our values ... and with our aspiration to be the world's most trusted company," Madra wrote in the blog post. He explained the team at Ford was attracted to Spin because it has worked to develop responsible relationships with cities — an area where some of Spin's competitors have fallen short.
"They do not launch without permission; they share usage data with cities; and they work with local officials and university campuses to design educational tools around parking and riding rules," Madra wrote.
The attraction was mutual from Spin's end, as well. Spin's founders explained in a blog post that Ford will help it grow its team to improve offerings as it scales across hundreds of "large metropolises, mid-sized cities and college campuses."
Despite backing from one of the largest automakers in the world, Spin has also pledged its commitment to working (and hiring) locally in order to gain community trust and complement existing transit operations in the cities it enters. "In the cities where we operate, we plan to help with enforcement around safety and parking, as well as provide rich data to inform urban planning and bolster sustainability initiatives," Spin's founders wrote.
The overall acquisition illustrates how the dockless phenomenon is transforming industries and forcing businesses — particularly automotive companies — to prepare for a future with reduced car ownership. Instead of fighting the shared mobility trend, Ford has leaned in to the experimental mobility sector and has proven its desire to not only develop sustainable transportation solutions but to completely evolve its business model.
"The acquisition of Spin is an important step towards realizing our ambitious vision for the future of urban mobility," Madra wrote.