Ford Motor Company will begin making its London-based GoDrive car-sharing service available to the public.
The service offers flexible, practical and affordable access to a fleet of cars for one-way journeys with easy parking throughout the city.
The project started as one of more than 25 experiments that form Ford Smart Mobility, Ford’s plan to use technology and innovation to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.
Ford is introducing GoDrive to target on-demand use and gain insight on emerging mobility trends and customers’ car-sharing habits.
“As cities become more and more congested, people are becoming increasingly open to new means of mobility, and car sharing is proving to be an appealing model,” said Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president for research and advanced engineering.
“A crucial part of delivering effective car-sharing services is to learn alongside these drivers what best meets their needs and expectations, and complements their location and existing transportation infrastructure.”
Intended to complement existing transport systems for integrated journeys, GoDrive is the only car-sharing service offering one-way trips with guaranteed parking. A pay-as-you-go approach, with pay-by-minute pricing covers congestion fees, insurance and fuel. Drivers use a smartphone app to reserve and access a car. Half of the fleet consists of Ford Focus Electric vehicles.
The pilot experiment launched with 100 registered members accessing zero‑emission Ford Focus Electric or low-emission Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost models from secure parking hubs near major public transport locations, such as Waterloo and Victoria railway stations.
Ford is now inviting 2,000 people to register for a free expanded service offering 50 cars across 20 locations.
It is estimated that in the UK alone the car-sharing sector will grow by 23% from 2013 to 2025. A recent Ford-commissioned survey of 5,500 commuters in major European cities found that a majority of people consider their journey to work more stressful than their actual jobs, and 80 per cent of Londoners said they are late for work once a month or more due to hold-ups.***
“Our research tells us that car clubs currently are perceived as inflexible when it comes to booking, time slots and return locations. Features such as one-way journeys and pay-as-you-go extend the number of opportunities that drivers would want to car-share and could prove a game-changer,” said Alicia Agius, project lead, GoDrive, Ford of Europe. “More drivers are finding GoDrive to be a key service that can potentially empower people living in the city with its flexible approach.”
Germany pilot includes Ford dealers
Since its launch earlier this year, feedback on the experiment has been largely positive, with the majority of initial users expressing optimism for the future of Ford in the growing car‑sharing market. Users have cited access to technologies found in Ford’s current model line‑up, such as FordSYNC and parking assistance features, as a selling point of the project.
Members also highlighted the convenience of a one-charge, pay-as-you-go system that includes the London Congestion Charge (currently £11.50). Drivers can familiarise themselves with the car during a five-minute grace period free of charge. Running costs are displayed via their app.
With the experiment currently in its ‘beta’ phase, Ford hopes to build on the initial success and gain further insight into user behaviour that will help refine the customer experience. Different weekend and day-hire pricing options, and further on- and off-street parking options will be investigated.
Ford also is exploring car-sharing experiments in Germany, India, and the U.S. that will help the company determine how to best serve global customers as they face new mobility options in the future.
In Germany Ford Carsharing is the first manufacturer-backed, nationwide car-sharing programme incorporating dealerships. It has run for two years and recently expanded to 40 dealers in 67 cities with 135 locations.