Enter Ford X: Automaker Buying Two More Mobility Companies

Ford badge emblem logo

Not to be outdone by General Motors’ excursion into autonomy, Ford Motor Company has announced it will purchase two mobility startups: Autonomic, which makes self-driving software; and TransLoc, which makes transit apps.

While Ford says it made a significant investment into the California-based Autonomic last year, it’s now rolling the company into a new team for developing mobility business models called “Ford X.”

This is familiar territory, as the Blue Oval also promised to put around $1 billion into Argo AI last year. The artificial intelligence startup is supposed to help Detroit automaker develop a “virtual driver systemâ€� for future autonomous fleets. But will the company’s strategy of acquiring businesses work as it hopes to reshape itself into a different kind of carmaker? Ford thinks so. 

Questioned about the plans by the Detroit Free Press, Ford Mobility president Marcy Klevorn said the acquisitions definitely accelerate the automaker’s strategy to “buy, build or partnerâ€� its way to self-driving goals.

“We believe the integration of the technology and talent from Autonomic and TransLoc into our Mobility team will further bolster our ability to deliver robust solutions for personal owners, fleet operators, and cities, with speed and at scale,” Klevorn explained.

Ford also announced Thursday that it wants to expand its Chariot commuter shuttle service to cities worldwide. Chariot currently only exists in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, New York City, and Columbus, Ohio. Still, which cities will be chosen were not disclosed, nor were details on the purchasing terms for TransLoc and Autonomic.

We do know Ford is shifting key staff into positions that will help ensure its business strategy is executed in a way that would probably make Ford’s mobility-obsessed former CEO Mark Fields proud.

Sunny Madra (the CEO and cofounder of Autonomic) will join Ford as vice president of Ford X, Brett Wheatley (director of Ford Marketing, Sales and Service Fitness Transformation) will become vice president of Mobility Marketing and Growth, Rich Strader is now vice president of Mobility Platforms and Products, and Marion Harris (chief financial officer of Ford Credit) shall become vice president of  Ford’s Mobility Business Group.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]