Ford CEO Mark Fields was at CES this year, and I got some time to talk to him about what Ford’s doing with its Smart Mobility business, why it made sense to acquire Chariot, to partner with Amazon for in-car Alexa integration, and to generally build out its services portfolio.
Fields told us how Ford evaluates when it makes more sense to own something itself, and when it makes sense to trust others to help it meet its goals in the market. He also explained that Ford’s core business is still going to be around designing and building great vehicles, but usage becomes an important outgrowth – these services will continue to drive demand for building cars, as ownership perhaps become less important to individuals, and fleet-based offerings might become the best way to continue growing its business.
I also talked to Fields about Ford’s partnership with Amazon to put Alexa in cars, and asked about the future of virtual assistants in vehicles. It sounds like Ford is totally open to the possibility of that becoming a bigger part of the in-car experience, and will evaluate where best to partner or build its own assistant services as the market develops.
Ford’s also discussing its vision of the future at the North American Auto Show this week, with a City of Tomorrow Symposium that looks at how smart infrastructure and connected vehicles, along with ride-sharing services like Chariot, might transform what our urban environments look like in the not-too-distant future.