Let’s Go for a Spin: Ford Buys Scooter Company to Provide Customers a First-Last Mile Solution
By Sunny Madra, Vice President, Ford X
Everywhere you look around the U.S., people’s mobility choices are changing. In crowded and congested cities, especially, many are reconsidering their transportation options. From ride-hailing to dedicated bicycle lanes, people and cities are considering alternatives to personal vehicles, but some are also taking more novel approaches — including scooter sharing.
The number of mobility options available to people has risen dramatically in recent years. In some situations, people use multiple forms of transportation during a single trip. 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.
That’s why earlier this year, we created Ford X, a division within Ford Smart Mobility, LLC that aims to quickly build, acquire and pilot new transportation products and services. The most successful of these projects will become part of our growing mobility offering. One example is our recent micro-mobility academic research project with Purdue University that launched Jelly scooters.
The research and development behind Jelly is enabling the Ford X team to better understand what’s required to succeed in the micro-mobility space, such as the importance of human-centered design, the critical importance of a reliable supply chain, and the need to work with cities and campuses to do scooter sharing responsibly.
And today, we are excited to be accelerating our efforts to provide micro-mobility solutions with the acquisition of Spin, a dockless electric scooter sharing company based in San Francisco. Spin is a leading micro-mobility service provider with operations in 13 cities and campuses across the US.
Spin is committed to working hand-in-hand with cities and universities to implement micro-mobility solutions responsibly, safely and sustainably as they expand their operations. 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. This approach aligns well with our values at Ford and with our aspiration to be the world’s most trusted company.
So how does scooter sharing fit into Ford’s mobility strategy?
Ford is focused on delivering great products and services across the mobility spectrum, seeking to enhance the freedom of movement by building smart vehicles for a smart, connected world. This means continuing to develop world-class vehicles, including more hybrids and battery-electric vehicles. It also means continuing development of self-driving vehicles, which we plan to launch at scale by 2021. Another critical component of our mobility strategy is to develop a comprehensive set of software and services designed to better enable vehicle connectivity and utilization, as well as new mobility experiences and multimodal transportation solutions.
By combining our strength in automotive research and development with our commitment to connected and autonomous vehicles and our emerging software business, we are expanding our portfolio of scalable mobility solutions intended to provide a seamless transportation experience for the modern consumer.
Spin adds an exciting new offering to Ford’s mobility portfolio as we try to help our customers get places more easily, more quickly and less expensively. Using a Spin electric scooter costs $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute. Affordability, combined with ease of use and electrified power, also means scooters can help tackle challenges such as traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution. This presents a significant opportunity as research shows nearly half of all trips made in the U.S. are 3 miles or less, according to “The Micro-Mobility Revolution,” a report by Populus.
As more people consider scooters to be a viable mobility option, now is the right time for Ford to work closely with Spin’s highly experienced and dedicated team to help expand their service to more cities. In fact, the team is launching their service today in Detroit! The acquisition of Spin is an important step towards realizing our ambitious vision for the future of urban mobility and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Derrick, Euwyn, Zaizhuang, Benny, Ben and the rest of the team to Ford.