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Ford revs up connected car innovation with next-generation mobility startups

ford

Ford puts mobile innovation in the front seat

Ford is teaming up with three startups as it ramps up focus on next-generation mobility solutions such as social intelligence-powered navigation, emergency notification platforms and ride-sharing initiatives.

The vehicle manufacturer is collaborating with Cargo, Spatial and HAAS Alert, which place mobile at the forefront of their services. Ford’s new partnerships suggest that other automotive brands may find value in exploring collaborations with mobility startups geared toward streamlining driving experiences and adding technology-driven convenient features into consumers’ lives.

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“The possibilities are endless when you combine the experience and influence of a storied company like Ford with the energy and innovation of these inspiring startups,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies. “Each partnership will change the customer experience in its own way, and we will continue to strive to build solutions that enhance mobility customer experiences.”

Turning innovation into reality
Following a series of months in which it further explored a variety of connected car features, Ford joined forces with three 2016 Techstars Mobility startups – Cargo, Spatial and HAAS Alert.

With these collaborations, Ford hopes to segue more deeply into forthcoming mobility solutions. This could translate to an in-car navigation system that taps social media data – such as frequently visited food trucks and most-photographed locations – to create a customized, interactive map for drivers.

Another partnership could offer up an advanced notification platform that informs drivers when emergency vehicles are quickly approaching, while yet another collaboration could transform ride-share vehicles into on-the-go convenience stores where passengers can purchase common items without having to stop at a store.

Cincinnati-based Spatial will collaborate with Ford on the automaker’s mission to enhance smart mobility. The startup combines human-driven data – including social media content – with machine-enabled analysis to create adaptive maps, enabling users to travel to any location like a local.


HAAS Alert's notifications appear on smartphones as well as on in-vehicle dashboards

Ford’s work with Chicago-based HAAS Alert includes the creation of intelligent traffic solutions, an action accomplished by offering pertinent emergency vehicle information to drivers. The pilot of this program is currently rolling out in Detroit, MI.

Lastly, New York-based Cargo is partnering with Ford to revamp the ride-sharing experience as consumers know it. The startup sends Cargo kits – stocked with common items such as snacks – to ride-share drivers.

Passengers can then purchase any of these products without having to stop at a convenience store during their journeys.

These three startups were chosen for three-month mentorships as part of the Techstars Mobility program. Each company received $120,000 in funding, as well as guidance on fostering relationships within the automotive industry, customer acquisition and business development.

Forward-thinking solutions
Connected car solutions have been at the forefront of many major automotive companies’ recent efforts, thanks to the increasingly mobile-first world that consumers live in.

Ford took a bullish stance on mobile connectivity this year by creating a subsidiary focused on mobility technologies, expanding its current innovations such as smartphone integration, ride-sharing applications and a digital benefit platform (see story).

Earlier this summer, Ford moved forward with a shuttle service program that allows users to request a ride via an application, which will arrive soon at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, prompting the start of a collaboration that will focus on improving public transportation (see story).


Ford's MIT shuttle service app

“Ford teaming up with next-gen mobility startups is a great way for the company to grab onto millennials that only know the tech age and want to further the ability for the world to be connected in many more ways,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis. “It is a brilliant way to be able to mold the next leaders that could pave the way for continuing its innovations in the connected car realm. 

“Additionally, more Fortune 500 companies (not just automakers) should take note of this program, as young startups need guidance from today's leaders to learn the pitfalls to avoid as they position themselves for success.”

Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Automotive, mobile, mobile marketing, ford, connected cars, mobility, notification, ride share, spatial, haas alert, cargo

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