Nearly every car company is developing a response to the meteoric rise of Uber and Lyft, and Ford announced FordPass, a suite of mobility services. FordPass offerings include the shared use and ownership of cars, parking reservations, multimodal routing, small retail stores, and an iTunes-like app to provide access to these services. Ford hopes FordPass will do for mobility what iTunes did for music.
Ford wants a piece of the mobility sector with an estimated value of $5.4 trillion, but exactly how it will generate revenue is not yet clear.
FordPass was spawned during a marathon 72-hour brainstorming session and developed over an 18-month period by a team led by Stephen Odell, executive vice president-global marketing, sales and service, and Henry Ford’s great-great-granddaughter, Elena Ford, vice-president-global dealer and consumer experience. FordPass will launch in April for free, whether or not users own a Ford vehicle.
FordPass features four beneficial elements to members: Marketplace includes mobility services; FordGuides to help consumers move more efficiently; Appreciation, where members are recognized for their loyalty; and FordHubs, where consumers can experience Ford’s latest innovations.
Marketplace mobility services include ParkWhiz and Parkopedia to help people find and pay for parking and FlightCar to borrow and share vehicles when traveling. In the future, services will include ride sharing, car sharing, multimodal transportation and more. Packed into Marketplace is FordPay – a virtual wallet to help users pay for services.
FordPass members can speak directly to trusted and knowledgeable FordGuides free of charge. For example, if a member decides he would like to book advance parking for an upcoming show but is unsure how to reserve it, one push of a button on his smartphone lands him in a live chat with a FordGuide who will lead him through the options and help to reserve parking.
FordPass Appreciation is about making mobility more rewarding. Members will be rewarded for doing simple things, such as registering to become a member, booking parking, or interacting with FordGuides. Appreciation affinity partners McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and others, will recognize members with access to merchandise and unique experiences.
FordPass also includes access to FordHubs, physical stores where consumers will be able to explore the company’s latest innovations, learn about its mobility services and experience exclusive events. The first of these urban storefronts opens later this year in New York, followed by FordHubs in San Francisco, London and Shanghai. On-site FordGuides will help guests understand mobility options available in their cities, explore solutions for their mobility needs, view a real-time mobility map of their city, and experience special events, including new vehicle reveals.
On a more mundane level, FordPass members that own Ford vehicles equipped with SYNC® Connect can use the to access vehicle features such as remote start; lock and unlock; fuel, oil and battery charge levels; tire pressure readings; and to locate their vehicle.
First Gen FordPass Leaves Opportunity For Growth
Granted, this first generation of FordPass seems to be a bit more style than substance. Strategically, however, FordPass may make sense in the longer term. Carmakers are eager to interact with their customers in ways beyond just selling them vehicles. It’s both a way to extract more revenue from consumers, and to protect against erosion of carmaker’s sales brought on by alternatives to ownership. Expect Ford and other carmakers to experiment with mobility in the future.
Consumers can sign up for more information and updates at MyFordPass.com.