- Ford on Tuesday announced the creation of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, a consolidated platform that will accelerate the company's autonomous vehicle (AV) business operations and capitalize on market opportunities, according to a company press release.
- The new arm will be based in Detroit, where Ford recently purchased the 500,000-square-foot Michigan Central Station building in a move that solidified Detroit's Corktown neighborhood as a "campus" for Ford AV innovation.
- Ford says it will invest $4 billion in its autonomous vehicle business by 2023, including the $1 billion investment in Argo AI that was announced in February 2017.
Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC is projected to be an all-encompassing arm of the Ford business, focusing on not only its AV research and engineering, but also self-driving systems integration, AV transportation-as-a-service network deployment, user experience and business strategy. The overall goal of Ford AV is to make self-driving vehicles commercialized and affordable as a logistical mobility option.
Ford has spent the last year dabbling in AV operations, most notably in the Miami market where it rolled out self-driving delivery tests with Domino's and Postmates. Both pilots focused on enhancing the "last mile" of the delivery experience, and Ford expects to deploy an actual fleet of the self-driving delivery vehicles by 2021.
Ford's ambitions to enhance its electric vehicle (EV) operations have also been at the forefront of its business, and will continue be a focus despite the investments in AV. The company's Team Edison, which will also operate on the Corktown campus in Detroit, will work to rethink the EV "ownership experience" by simplifying the charging process and enhancing vehicle capabilities and features, according to a press release.
In a January blog post, Ford Mobility President Marcy Klevorn wrote, "We aren't interested in developing self-driving vehicles to operate simply as isolated nodes in a massive transportation environment... Inside an efficient, connected and optimized transportation system, this technology holds the promise for a whole new approach to moving goods, distributing content and serving humanity." It is evident that Ford's leadership has maintained this vision of the AV promise, and with continued focus, the automaker could lead the AV trend over the next decade and beyond.