Ford brings car sharing experiment to London

Ford Motor Company will begin making its London-based GoDrive car-sharing service available to the public.

The service offers access to a fleet of cars for one-way journeys with easy parking throughout the city.

The project started as one of more than 25 experiments that form Ford Smart Mobility, Ford’s plan to use technology and innovation to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.

With the global car-sharing industry expected to exceed $6bn USD (£3.8 bn) by 2020, Ford is introducing GoDrive to target on-demand use and gain insight on emerging mobility trends and customers’ car-sharing habits. Ford is working with Londoners to understand their mobility needs and travel and parking patterns.

‘As cities become more and more congested, people are becoming increasingly open to new means of mobility, and car sharing is proving to be an appealing model,’ said Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. ‘A crucial part of delivering effective car-sharing services is to learn alongside these drivers what best meets their needs and expectations, and complements their location and existing transportation infrastructure.’

GoDrive offers one-way trips with guaranteed parking. A pay-as-you-go approach, with pay-by-minute pricing covers congestion fees, insurance and fuel. Drivers use a smartphone app to reserve and access a car. Half of the fleet consists of Ford Focus Electric vehicles.

The pilot experiment launched with 100 registered members accessing zero emission Ford Focus Electric or low-emission Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost models from secure parking hubs near major public transport locations, such as Waterloo and Victoria railway stations.

It is estimated that in the UK alone the car-sharing sector will grow by 23% from 2013 to 2025. A recent Ford-commissioned survey of 5,500 commuters in major European cities found that a majority of people consider their journey to work more stressful than their actual jobs, and 80% of Londoners said they are late for work once a month or more due to hold-ups.

‘Our research tells us that car clubs currently are perceived as inflexible when it comes to booking, time slots and return locations. Features such as one-way journeys and pay-as-you-go extend the number of opportunities that drivers would want to car-share and could prove a game-changer,’ said Alicia Agius, project lead, GoDrive, Ford of Europe. ‘More drivers are finding GoDrive to be a key service that can potentially empower people living in the city with its flexible approach.’

Ford also is exploring car-sharing experiments in Germany, India, and the U.S. that will help the company determine how to best serve global customers as they face new mobility options in the future.