Ford Postpones Autonomous Vehicle Launch Until 2022
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Ford has announced that it will push back the launch of autonomous vehicle commercial services until 2022. Plans were originally in place to deploy self-driving vehicles for commercial use next year.
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‘Understanding customer behavior’ key to AV delay
In a statement released late in April, Ford Motor Company said:
“Given the challenges of the current business environment, as well as the need to evaluate the long-term impact of COVID-19 on customer behaviors, Ford made the decision to shift the launch of its self-driving services to 2022. Understanding customer behavior is a critically important part of building a new mobility service built around trust and making people’s lives easier.”
Ford Motor Company has been targeting the 2021 launch for commercial autonomous vehicle operations for several years. In 2017, it invested $1 billion in firm Argo AI to help with the development of a fully autonomous vehicle. Self-driving prototype testing on public roads launched in markets such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Palo Alto, California; Washington, D.C.; and Miami, Florida. The latter-most two are scheduled to be the launch markets for commercial services when they go live.
Ford has tested using AVs commercially with companies like Postmates and Domino’s. It has also partnered with the likes of Lyft to test self-driving vehicles for ride-sharing purposes.
Argo AI and Ford currently use prototypes based on the latest-generation Fusion, but Ford COO Jim Farley says that the final product will be a “ground-up” hybrid vehicle purpose-built for self-driving deliveries.
Ford did not say whether it has deviated from its plan to bring self-driving vehicles to retail customers by 2025.
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