Ford Motors has inked a two-year research partnership with RWTH Aachen University to identify technologies and services that will meet customers' expectations for personal mobility. The project is also expected to help address increasing traffic congestion and environmental issues. According to Ford chief executive Mark Fields, there is a need for the carmaker to address growing risks from urbanization, air pollution and changing consumer attitudes.
Ford will take a look at firms like Apple and Amazon that have managed to expand from just single product and service companies to providers of full hardware and software platforms and services. The Ford-RTWH collaboration will determine how such approaches could result to enhanced car-ownership experiences as well as new ideas for car-sharing and personalization of mobility solutions.
It will also pave for the creation innovative features and new business opportunities. According to Ford, its thinking is driven by four megatrends: urbanization, rapid growth of global middle class, air quality and changing consumer attitudes.
The carmaker remarked that the number of megacities – those with populations of more than 10 million people – is expected to reach 41 by the end of the next decade, which means there will be need to for smarter cars, smarter roads and smarter cities.
Ford noted that the middle class will double in size as forecasted to 4 billion by 2030, which means more vehicle owners as well as increased traffic congestion. The increasing numbers of vehicles also creates the need for more fuel-efficient and alternative powertrains.
Likewise, younger customers are now looking for alternatives to car ownership. According to Fields said, young customers in Europe are becoming less interested in owning a car because of the increased congestion on city streets. [source: Ford]