Ford is taking on initiatives that transcend traditional car ownership and driver experience, evolving from its position as a leading automotive company to a mobility and technology organization for the future.
Ford has refocused its efforts on becoming more than just an automotive manufacturer—the company is changing the way the world moves. Ford’s team of researchers has been hard at work exploring alternative modes of transportation, and even car sharing, to see what best suits the needs of urban movers. This shift has led to a greater focus on technological innovation, as signaled by the company’s January 2015 opening of the expanded Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto in Silicon Valley.
In Mark Fields’ first CES keynote speech as Ford’s CEO, he announced “Ford Smart Mobility,” a “plan to use innovation to take [Ford] to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and big data.” Fields also announced more than 25 experiments designed to test new ideas and address increasing transportation challenges. The company launched several additional experiments throughout the year and said mid-year that it will target future mobility innovations in two key areas: flexible use and ownership, and multimodal urban travel solutions.
Ford is also aggressively rolling out new technologies and innovations for its vehicles. The company has successfully launched its best-selling F-150 pickup trucks, bringing to market the toughest, smartest, and most capable F-150. Upgraded with a lightweight aluminum-alloy body and high-strength steel frame, the new truck offers better mileage as well as more towing and hauling capability. It was a risky move that involved the costly closing of its Dearborn and Kansas City assembly plants. But the F-150 contributed to a 13 percent year-over-year rise in overall U.S. sales for Ford in October 2015.
Fast-paced innovation and a commitment to the impact of its long-term R&D investments affected profitability in 2014. At a time when manufacturing in the U.S. has become significantly more expensive—particularly for hybrid and fuel-efficient cars—Ford is aggressively growing its global operations. As an American original, deeply rooted in the early days of automotive history, Ford continues to balance its rich heritage with a technology-fueled approach and stronger global positioning.