The second largest US automaker is ready to prototype new car-sharing programs with U.S. and UK partners in a bid to embrace a strategy that might prepare the company for a world with alternate car ownership features.
Ford’s finance is scheduled to initiate pilot car-sharing programs with Getaround in the United States and easyCar Club in London, according to Ford chief executive officer Mark Fields, after launching a similar, flexible on-demand test program called GoDrive in London. The automaker is racing to join the car-sharing industry, an emerging field that has grown tremendously in recent years – though it’s three years later than General Motors, which partnered with San Francisco-based RelayRides. All of these firms, including Getaround and easyCar Club, connect vehicle owners with other individuals looking to rent for short term a car in what is dubbed peer-to-peer sharing – with connections traditionally established through smartphone applications. Other manufacturers, mostly in Europe, also operate or have invested in car-sharing companies, including Daimler’s car2go, BMW’s DriveNow and Volkswagen Ag’s Quicar and Greenwheels.
Owners of vehicles that were acquired through financing offered by Ford Motor Credit will be able to rent their cars to prescreened through the pilot programs run with Getaround and easyCar Club. The US endeavor is introduced in three cities in California – San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley – and three other towns: Chicago, Washington and Portland. The peer-to-peer car sharing services should be seen as a different business solution from the ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, which are mostly alternatives to traditional taxi rides.