Ford CEO Mark Fields opening keynote at Further with Ford 2015

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Last week, I was honoured to be one of 15 Canadian influencers and 200 media outlets to attended Ford’s 5th annual Further with Ford conference. Throughout the morning and afternoon, invited guests arrived in San Francisco to get an exclusive look at Ford’s latest technology innovations. I’ve met journalists and bloggers from Dubai, London, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong and across North America.

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Our home base for the next 3 day was at the luxurious, Grand Hyatt in Union Square. Check out the stunning, panoramic view of San Francisco skyline from the 36th floor. You can see the Pier, Coit Tower, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Later that night, we headed to Pier 27 along the Embarcadero for Ford CEO Mark Fields opening presentation. The opening keynote highlight the next phase of Ford Smart Mobility plan, smart watch & mobile apps, car sharing, flexible ownership, park assist, and eBikes. I love that Ford is thinking more than just the car but expanding into connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles and enhancing the customer experience.

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There are currently 28 mega cities around the world like New York, Beijing, Paris, Guangzhou and Moscow. Mega cities are define as cities with more than 10 million residents and 20 mega cities are located in the developing world. In a few decades, there will be 41 mega cities. By 2050, the world’s population will be reach 9 billion and 70% will live in the cities.

As with rapid growth, these cities will encounter social, economic and environmental problems. Ford is developing new technologies to tackle traffic congestion, air pollution, vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. Ford is also developing a new transportation concept, multimodal mobility, to move people and goods between urban and rural areas.

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After six months of gathering customer data and insights, Ford is starting with these two strategic areas: flexible use and ownership of vehicles and multimodal urban travel solutions.

“We now are moving from experimentation to implementation,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, speaking today at the annual Further with Ford trends conference in Palo Alto. “We have learned a lot in the past six months, and now are ready to put insights into action. Our goal is to make people’s lives better by helping them more easily navigate through their day, address societal issues and, over time, change the way the world moves – just as Henry Ford did more than 100 years ago.”

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Ford recently launched GoDrive, an on-demand, car sharing program in London. The service offer customers flexible, practical and affordable access to cars for one-way trips with guaranteed parking. The new pilot has fleet of 50 zero-emission Focus Electric vehicles in 20 location throughout the city. Ford GoDrive let customers pay for the service and access the cars using their smartphone. The program charges per minute and doesn’t have an annual fee.

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Ford Credit is inviting 14,000 and 12,000 customers in six U.S. cities (Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Washington, D.C) and London to sign up to rent their Ford Credit-financed vehicles to prescreened drivers for short-term use, offsetting monthly vehicle ownership costs. U.S. customers can participate through Getaround, while London customer can connect through easyCar Club.

“Consumers tell us they are interested in sharing the costs of vehicle ownership, and this program will help us understand how much that extends to customers who are financing a Ford vehicle,” said David McClelland, Ford Credit vice president of marketing. “As most vehicles are parked and out of use much of the time, this can help us gauge our customers’ desires to pick up extra cash and keep their vehicles in use.”

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As crowded cities like Vancouver are embracing alternative form of transportation, Ford unveiled a new lineup of electric bikes that integrate with Ford vehicles.

The MoDe:Me is designed for the urban commuter. It can fold and stow easily, allowing the rider to park on the city outskirts, take the eBike onto public transport and travel to the centre, then ride the eBike to their destination.

The MoDe:Pro is designed for commercial use. It’s more rugged and it’s built for courier and delivery services. The Pro has an optional rear rack for transporting goods.

The MoDe:Flex is Ford’s most versatile eBike. It can be reconfigurable for different rider needs. The bike’s wheels can be configured for road, mountain or city riding. The bike can fold and store inside any Ford vehicle where it can be charged.

All eBikes are equipped with a 200-watt motor with 9-amp-hour battery that provides electric pedal assist for speeds of up to 25 km/h. The prototype eBikes feature a rear-facing ultrasonic sensor that warns the rider when a vehicle is overtaking, by vibrating both handlebars.

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Using the MoDe:Link app, the rider can use their smartphone to connect to the eBike. The app brings up real time information like weather, congestion, parking costs, time, traffic and public transportation. It also offer eyes-free navigation, route planning, and health and fitness information. My favourite feature is the “no sweat” mode, which increases electric pedal assist based on your heart rate ensuring you get to your destinations without breaking a sweat.

A smartwatch app is also available to bring the same real time data and functionality to the rider’s wrist.

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Stay tuned for our Day 2 (trend session) and Day 3 (2016 Ford vehicle demo) coverage of the Further with Ford conference.

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James Chung

Vancouver Lifestyle, Cool Tech & Travel Adventure. Email: [email protected]

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