Is Ford Betting It All On Self-Driving Cars?

3 months ago
59 in self-driving

The big news in the automotive industry today has been Ford ousting its CEO [Story].

Although it survived the financial crisis, while GM and Chrysler were forced to declare bankruptcy [Story], with Mark Fields at the reigns over the past three years, the stock price has dropped precipitously [Source (warning: paywall)].

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While the inner-workings of the C-suite of a multi-national company can be fascinating, the point of this piece is to discuss the ramifications of the person they are replacing Mark with: James Hackett [Source]. James was the head of the unit that works on autonomous vehicles (colloquially: self-driving cars). This clearly hints at where Ford is thinking the future of the automotive industry in America is heading: self-driving cars.

Self-driving cars could become an $87 billion industry by 2030 [Source]. Whoever makes it first to market with a workable solution is expected to win big from the technology. We've recently scene hints at Ford's interest in exploring the space. They recently made a $1 billion investment in a small Pittsburgh startup focused on autonomous vehicles [Source].

While at this point they haven't said directly that they are going to make autonomous vehicles their focus, the evidence points strongly to that being the case. Between their investment in the field, and their placement of a person with experience in autonomous vehicle as CEO, they're sending out pretty strong signals that that will be the case.

Ford had already gotten their feet wet in partnering with Uber on bringing self-driving cars to Pittsburgh last year [Source], so this isn't too out-landish of a possibility.

What do you think? Will Ford get on the hype-train and shift focus to bringing a self-driving car to market soon? Will we see cities crowded with Ford cars with no one at the wheel? Will that help them get out of the stock glut they've been in for a while now?

Cover photo adapted from Foo Conner.

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50
  ·  3 months ago

The internet of things are about to be our reality.

45
  ·  3 months ago

I think for sure Ford is going to join the self-driving car industry if it wants to stay relevant in the future. We are a long ways away from everyone using one but the earlier they get invested the better. There's also a lot of talk of blockchain technology being used for self-driving cars which will bring a lot of growth to cryptocurrencies.

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59
  ·  3 months ago

I hadn't heard about that. How would it work? Consensus on when it's okay to make a right on red?

29
  ·  3 months ago

Nothing will help send their stock higher in the short term (2-3 years). Auto is cyclical and peaked out last year. The Auto industry recovered from the last financial crisis by offering longer term loans that reduced monthly debt payments while also issuing more and more loans to sub-prime borrowers. Remember cash for clunkers? That program also helped the recovery by taking millions of used cars off the market which raised the value of the remaining models. Used car prices are coming down and auto loan defaults are rising fast. Ford's revenue stream is heavily dependent on consumer debt that is nearly tapped out and moving toward default. Ford is in trouble along with all the other brands.

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59
  ·  3 months ago

That makes a lot of sense. The institutional investors must realize that, explaining why the stock has continued to decline. Hopefully by advancing a new technology, they can stay relevant. It would suck if we see another financial crisis revolving around sub-prime auto loans. I remember John Oliver did an episode on this very topic.

49
  ·  3 months ago

Exelente post, excellent platform steemit I am really excited and I have dedicated much of my time in trying to grow in this community, a vote may not cost you anything but for me it means a lot, you follow me I tell you.
Please comment

57
  ·  3 months ago

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51
  ·  2 months ago

soon to be other brand as well.