Back in 2016, Ford seized the opportunity to dive into the world of mobility and acquired Chariot, an app-based micro-transit service, for a whopping $65 million. With the recent announcement that the company's pilot program in Denver is shutting down, it looks like this bet has gone bust for one of America's most storied automakers.
So just what happened to this promising venture that was supposed to provide Ford with yet another way to explore territory outside of your dealership's showroom in its attempt to unlock new streams of revenue? According to Andrew Kenney of The Denver Post, it appears that Chariot, now a subsidiary of Ford, will be the latest casualty in the company's broader restructuring plan.
Outside of serving as a setback for this automaker in the burgeoning industry of non-traditional mobility services that appears poised to rock the traditional automotive world, shuttering Chariot's app-based shuttle service also leaves the over 100 customers of this platform in Denver (many of whom no longer own vehicles) in a bind going forward. On top of this, the fact that the service will end on January 27th, even though the city itself agreed to pay $250,000 for the pilot program to last through April, helps drive home the fact that this whole endeavor has turned into a veritable quagmire – and a potential cautionary tale for other automakers who are eager to rush into mobility ventures that challenge traditional vehicle ownership without doing their homework on the viability of the situation.
Will Ford continue to shed other similar ride-hailing and ride-sharing projects as it grapples with remaining relevant in an automotive marketplace that grows more and more turbulent with each passing day? Is the dispersal of Chariot a golden opportunity for another player in the shared space of tech/automotive to swoop in and lay the foundation for a micro-transit service in one of the biggest markets in the United States?
To answer these questions, go ahead and spend a few minutes with Kenney and The Denver Post on the other side of the link below for the full scoop on both the demise of Chariot in Denver and Ford's latest woes regarding this pilot program.