Transformation to Mobility Company? Ford Returns to Detroit. on Mobility Companies

The original mass-market mobility company is trying at great risk to become a 21st century one.

It’s been an on again, off again geographic affair, but Ford now officially says it has returned to Detroit with its global electric vehicle organization, Ford Team Edison. The autonomous vehicle business team is also housed in a refurbished former factory located in Detroit’s historic Corktown district.

Planned to begin production in 2021, Ford’s first autonomous vehicles will be designed to move people or goods.

Back to the Future.

As part of an $11.1 billion investment in global electric vehicles announced earlier this year, Ford says it will sell electrified vehicles that “offer exciting experiences and enhanced capabilities based on what people need and want – including the all-new Mustang-inspired battery-electric SUV in 2020.”

In the next few years, Ford plans to offer hybrid options on high-volume nameplates such as Mustang, F-150, Explorer, Escape and Bronco, in addition to hybrid options for every new Ford SUV introduced. The work done in Corktown will also help accelerate the development of Ford’s battery-electric vehicle program. A total of 40 electrified vehicles will be available globally from Ford by 2022, including 16 full battery-electric vehicles.

Heralding the alleged demise of the suburbs the Model T assembly-line company helped create, Ford workers will have “the opportunity to immerse themselves in the lifestyle and mobility challenges of an urban environment. This daily immersion allows them to identify problems and generate solutions that will inform the development of the company’s self-driving and electric vehicles.”

Sign, Groan

Long time industry observers will likely sigh at this press release claim: “Much more than just a relocation, the move is a purpose-driven strategic decision, offering a new work environment and customizable workspace that will enable the acceleration of Ford’s push into electrification and strengthen its development of self-driving vehicles.”

This off used industry cliché is met with skepticism at AutoInformed, having heard it more than once with variations from General Motors and Chrysler and their divisions and subsidiaries. A change in location, doesn’t necessarily mean a change in management philosophy or increase the ability to compete – in this case against the amorphous but wildly pursued quest for transformation into a mobility company.

Industry analysts are in effect noting that the Golden Fleece that Jason and the Argonauts were pursuing was a myth, but here a real fleecing of stockholders is a possible result of this quest.

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