Earlier this summer, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece written by chairman Bill Ford. The column is titled “Bill Ford on the Future of Transportation: We Can’t Simply Sell More Cars.” You’ll need a subscription to the WSJ if you want to read it yourself, but we can summarize here. The title really says it all – the landscape of the automotive industry is changing.
This isn’t even news. In times where phrases like “peak oil” and “peak car” are being thrown around more than ever, it makes sense for our industry’s leaders to be looking forward and thinking ahead to a day when the cars of today will no longer meet our needs, and it makes perhaps the most sense of all for Bill Ford and his family’s company to lead a candid discussion on this issue. Ford Motor Company has revolutionized the auto industry before, and they will try to do so again.
The crux of Ford’s argument comes down to automakers evolving from manufacturers to “personal-mobility companies.” As connectivity between vehicles increases, the role of companies that make those vehicles must also expand. Not six weeks after Ford’s op-ed was published, reports are indicating that the United States government is moving toward mandating vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says technology like left-turn assist and pedestrian detection could prevent hundreds of thousands of collisions each year by warning drivers of imminent danger.
Ford also discusses more generally accepted avenues for change such as the use of lighter weight materials to effect greater fuel efficiency in vehicles. Ford is already taking steps toward this end with the all-aluminum F-150. Another report from Reuters indicates that the Blue Oval will for the first time be building a dedicated hybrid vehicle. Until now, Dearborn has always managed to consolidate assembly lines by incorporating hybrid and EV systems onto the frames of existing gas-powered models, such as the Fusion and the C-MAX. This compact hybrid from Ford is expected to roll out in the 2019 model year. More recently, Bill Ford has also spoken out in favor of car-sharing initiatives and making “the grid” greener to increase the impact of electric vehicles.
Even if you can’t read the full piece from Bill Ford, we hope that like us at Leith Ford you are encouraged to see one of the automotive industry’s leading figures setting his sights beyond the horizon. There will come a time when we talk about a new Ford that is more than just a redesigned or refreshed model. At some point, we’ll be talking about the next revolution in human transportation, and we’re looking forward to that day.
Visit us at Leith Ford in Wendell, just minutes from anywhere in Raleigh and the Triangle.