LONDON (Reuters) - Ford will launch its Chariot minibus services in a sixth U.S. city “very shortly”, further expanding the service designed to appeal to those moving away from traditional car ownership after it began in London this week, an executive told Reuters.
Ford is trying to diversify into other modes of transportation from vehicles sold to consumers as new competitors from Alphabet’s Google to Uber shake up the traditional automotive industry.
Major carmakers are experimenting with mobility services, partnering with existing tech apps or developing their own offerings such as car clubs as they seek to appeal to young urbanites who have increasingly shunned buying a vehicle.
Ford bought Chariot in 2016 and has been expanding the service, which allows passengers to book seats for journeys generally between transport hubs and to and from park and ride facilities.
It is available in San Francisco, Austin, Columbus, New York City, Seattle and, from this week, London, where Chariot will operate four routes in areas south of the River Thames which are generally not near underground stations.
Ford’s global president of mobility Marcy Klevorn told Reuters further expansion was due soon.
“We’ve got a couple of other launches lined up and ... one I think fairly shortly,” she said during an interview in London.
Asked whether that location would be in the U.S., Klevorn said: “Exactly, coming very shortly.”
Sarah-Jayne Williams, director of smart mobility for Ford in Europe, told Reuters the investment in London had created 24 jobs so far and Ford was hoping to widen its product offering.
“We’re also looking at different enterprise routes or charter-type services which we would hope to extend during this year,” she said.
Editing by Stephen Addison