Ford innovates today by understanding tomorrow
There is one conference that is out of my ordinary tech-scene and that is the Ford Go Further conference. Today’s vehicles are essentially computers on wheels. They are THE Internet of Things example where mobility, connectivity and data reside in a vehicle that transports us from point A to B. Gone are the days when all you needed was a spanner and a tool box; in order to understand vehicles as today, the mechanic plugs in a laptop and all the required information becomes available at a touch of a button.
I chatted to Erica Klampfl, Ford’s Global Mobility Solutions Manager, who is in charge of keeping the company ahead of its time (and competitors) by understanding the most important megatrends which will define mobility of the future.
Erica stats that there are currently 28 megacities with more than 10 million people living in the cities worldwide “we can expect that number to grow to 41 megacities by 2030. The current infrastructure cannot sustain this. Therefore roads and vehicles need to be smarter.”
There is a rapid growth of middle class which will double by 2030. This might seem non-related however one of the first purchases of the growing middle class is a purchase of a vehicle. This will place even more burden on the existing infrastructure.
There are changing consumer attitudes of the Millennials who behave differently when it comes to mobility. For the Millennials , not owning a car is acceptable especially with the ride-sharing apps and on-demand apps such as Uber becoming a norm. “There are stats that show that Millennials are also in no rush to get their driver’s licence. These trends change the way we need to view mobility at Ford.”
In order to understand the future, Ford has set up 25 experiments which will allow Ford to understand detailed information such as Connectivity, Big Data, Autonomous Driving and Driver-Assistance. These learnings will help to define the Ford of the future.
Ford journey is keeping true to the original vision of Henry Ford which is making transport available to everyone not just the elite. Therefore, current driver-assistance technology such as self-park will begin to spread across the entire fleet and not just to their top-end cars.
Jeff Nemeth, President and CEO Sub Saharan African Region confirms that Ford’s market share has grown to 15% in 2015 from 7% in 2008. In 2014, at the same event Ford committed to having 17 new vehicles introduced into Sub Saharan Africa. To date, Ford is on track to fulfil this promise and has already introduced 11 new products.
This growth is due to Ford’s specific emphasis on empowerment and has extensive training programs for mechanics throughout Africa. “Youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow” says Nemeth, therefore Ford recognises this role and as a result, Ford Fund partners with Enctus to give universities the ability to take part in a global program to improve their local communities. Ford supports wildlife foundations and has invested over R35 million in these initiatives.