The Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) wants a piece of Uber’s lucrative action. It is testing its own networked-transportation app called the Dynamic Shuttle.
The service is an app that lets customers summon a “shuttle” – the shuttle is a Ford Transit van. The difference between Ford’s service and Uber or Lyft is that the riders have to share the van, which would apparently be cheaper than an Uber ride and possibly safer.
The company has been experimenting with the service in its hometown of Dearborn, Mich. for the past year, a press release indicates. The service is now being rolled out as a pilot project designed to test a platform for ride sharing. It sounds as if Ford might be planning to sell or lease the service, along with the vans.
People would buy or lease a van from Ford, then use the app to pay for it. That sounds a great deal like Uber’s business model. A big difference is that Ford is currently using a van with special livery.
The van itself has such amenities as Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, and storage for personal items. Dynamic Shuttle sounds a great deal like the airport shuttle services that operate in the United States.
The most likely use of the service would be to take customers to and from airports or train stations. It could also be used for commuting or to connect regional commuter rail or bus lines with workplaces.
According to a Ford press release, the Dynamic Shuttle app should be available within the next few months. The release mentions Atlanta, Edinburgh, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Chennai, and Mumbai indicating that the service could be rolled out in those cities soon.
Ford Gathering Data
My guess is that the app will serve two purposes for Ford. First, it will allow the company to collect data about networked transportation services, which are a growing market. Ford already has a deal to finance leases by Uber drivers. Such data could be used for some of Ford’s other projects, including electric cars and self-driving cars. Second, it gives Ford a possible new business to enter.
Even if the app does not work out, Ford could still market the shuttle to customers, such as cab and shuttle services or transit agencies. Those are large, and in some cases, growing markets.
Since Ford has $58.75 billion in cash and term investments, it certainly has the revenue to enter this growing field. Uber and Lyft had better watch out because they could have a well-financed competitor. Ford could also be a powerful partner for Uber: it and the networked transportation solution are currently testing self-driving cars in Arizona.
For those looking for a way to invest in the growing networked transportation or ride sharing field, Ford would be a good choice. It is a really good stock that is undervalued right now. It also has the technological and manufacturing resources to become a dominant player in the field if it wishes.