Ford Announces Partnership with Lyft to Bring Self-Driving Cars to Ride-Sharing Service
On Wednesday, Ford Motor Company announced that it is forging a partnership with rideshare provider Lyft to help create a quicker path toward self-driving cars and, as Ford Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification Sherif Marakby puts it, “help both companies progress toward a more affordable, dependable, and accessible transportation future.”
Marakby made the announcement official in an article posted on Medium, wherein he outlines the questions that Ford and Lyft will look to answer together. Chief among them are the questions of how to create a platform that can be used in conjunction with a partner for the quick and effective dispatch of a self-driving vehicle, which cities would benefit most from the availability of a self-driving vehicle service, and what infrastructure would be necessary to bring a fleet of self-driving vehicles to a particular market.
As such, Ford will work with one another to develop a software platform that will allow Ford’s self-driving vehicles to communicate with the Lyft app, though self-driving vehicles are not in the offing in the immediate future. Ford has set a deadline of 2021 for self-driving vehicles to be made available for fleet and ride-sharing services. Lyft also announced in July that it has plans to open its own self-driving car program in Palo Alto by next year.
“We expect that our partnership with Lyft will accelerate our efforts to build a profitable and viable self-driving vehicle business. With Lyft’s network and respected brand experience, we expect our ability to scale self-driving vehicles will play a critical role in safely bringing this technology—and its many benefits — to mainstream consumers.”
As Reuters notes, General Motors owns a 9% stake in Lyft, with the automaker having acquired its share with a $500 million investment in January 2016. Lyft Chief Strategy Officer Raj Kapoor notes that the relationship between GM and Lyft was never an exclusive one, while a GM spokesperson stated that the announcement “does not affect our existing business relationship with Lyft.”
More details on the partnership are likely forthcoming on Tuesday when new Ford CEO Jim Hackett is set to meet with investors and lay out his roadmap for the company.