Ford: Autonomous Vehicles LLC

Ford has just announced the creation of a new subsidiary, dedicated to accelerating the deployment of its Autonomous Vehicles. 



The Detroit automaker has just released a press statement on their website, announcing the creation of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. The new company will be charged with "accelerating Ford's AV business to capitalize on market opportunities". The newly established entity will find a new home in the Corktown campus of Ford - a campus that, as previously announced, will allow Ford to return to its roots. The automaker's latest acquisitions, including Argo AI (and potentially Autonomic?) will move under the umbrella of the new LLC and could also be moving to the new campus (although no mention of that is made in the press statement). 

Sherif Marakby, current Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification will take over as the first CEO of the newly spun-out part of the company. Marakby is a product of Ford, through and through, and he has been at Ford since at least 2003 (with a short, 1-year break at Uber, according to his LinkedIn profile). According to the press statement, the new CEO will report to a board led by March Klevorn, the current president of Ford's Mobility group - the closer alignment of the self-driving platform and the mobility solutions teams is expected to enhance the development of businesses that can thrive in the new mobility world.

The Detroit-based automaker did not miss the opportunity to use the statement as a platform to give us a taster of their plans for the future. Most importantly, Ford stated that their "electric vehicle strategy includes rethinking the ownership experience, including making charging an effortless experience at home and on the road, as well as offering full-vehicle over-the-air software updates to enhance capability and features." Ford already launched a subscription-based ownership service called Canvas this year - is their statement a hint that they may be going even further with a Volvo M-like service? 

Lastly, Ford also made clear their plans to have the most efficient product development organisation of all full-line automakers within five years. Under Thai-Tang (Executive VP of Product Development), the statement claims, Ford is moving to flexible vehicle architectures and more common parts across models, cutting new product development time by 20 percent. Having observed Tesla's fully automated processes fail this year, and Elon Musk creating a new, less-automated factory in a tent, it will be interesting to see if Ford's approach to cutting time and costs by sharing parts across models will yield better results. 

The structural changes in the Ford group will become effective on August 1st, 2018. 

Photo Credit: Dwight Burdette

Andrew Kyprianides