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By 12 August 2015 | Categories: news

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Although new car debuts garnered much of the attention at Ford South Africa's Go Further Africa event, the company's shifting focus towards Smart Mobility also came to the fore. Ford has been hard at work developing new solutions and fostering partnerships with technology leaders in order to deliver better mobility offerings.

The Ford MoDe: Pro e-Bike is a clear example of this, as not only an eco-friendly mode of transport for short distances, but also a means to help businesses with service delivery in traffic heavy environments.

Thinking Mobile First

Another example is Ford GoDrive, which is a pay-as-you-go service akin to that of Lyft. It has been launched in London as a trial in May this year, and deemed a success since then. The service offers users a better value proposition personal travel option, as opposed to the costs of owning a car in a heavily congested city like London.

The creation of solutions is not Ford's sole thinking when it comes to Smart Mobility however, as the vast amounts of data it is able to collate and interpret can hold untapped value for city planners, small-to-medium businesses, as well as large corporates, all of which requires the insight that the Internet of Things (IoT) can deliver, according the American carmaker.

In fact, at the Mobility Panel discussion held after the main showcase, Erica Klampfl, Future Mobility Manager at Ford, stated that Ford has begun to make the move away from being an automotive company to being a mobility one. "This initiative extends far beyond vehicles and includes investing in a range of mobility pilots and experiments. Such ongoing research projects help us to find out what works and to develop smarter, more connected mobility solutions,” noted Klampfl.

Partnering Up

Ford also used yesterday's Go Further Africa event to announce its Ford X-Car Social Innovation Action Partnership Program. The program serves as a new mobility experiment that Ford has taken up, supporting public-private partnerships by using Ford vehicles as the transportation backbone to deliver goods and services to otherwise underserved communities.

“With the X-Car program, we’re using innovative partnerships to bring critical services to communities in South Africa, including access to healthcare, purified water and education,” said Kim Pittel, Ford’s VP for Sustainability, Environment & Safety Engineering.

Vehicles used in the Ford X-Car program will be equipped with an OpenXC plug-in device, a connectivity platform enabling analytic feedback from the vehicle and its day-to-day activities. As such, Ford believes its Smart Mobility experiments could provide significant insight through data analytics that will help devise mobility solutions for millions by working with partners such as World Vision.

A Paradigm Shift

By any measure, it appears as if Ford's focus in coming years will be shifting far more, to integrating a greater deal of mobility-empowered solutions into its vehicles. With this year's Go Further event detailing the start of its Smart Mobility roadmap, it should be interesting to see how far down the road Ford will be at next year's event. The question is, to which degree South Africa and the rest of the continent will be a part of that roadmap.

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