Ford and Deutsche Bahn subsidiary collaborate on German bike share service

Automotive giant Ford has partnered a subsidiary of Germany’s government backed railway firm Deutsche Bahn on a new bike share initiative for Europe.

Next month, 3,200 FordPass bicycles will be made available via Deutsche Bahn’s Call a Bike hire system to cyclists in Cologne and Düsseldorf, as Ford of Germany becomes the first car maker to help deliver a bike sharing service in Europe.

Ford has already created a ‘smart mobility’ off shoot to its automotive business and is a significant investor in bike share giant Motivate.

“As a mobility provider, we will collaborate on sustainable solutions that supplement the transportation system in a way that makes sense, particularly in inner city areas. For this reason, we are launching the FordPass bike sharing service together with Germany’s market leader, Call a Bike,” said Steven Armstrong, group vice president and president, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Ford Motor Company, announcing the partnership at New Mobility World, the forum on future mobility at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt.

Customers will now be able to use the FordPass mobile app to register for Call a Bike, find the nearest available bicycle, and pay for it online. The FordPass app can already be used to access Ford‘s car sharing service, to locate parking spaces, or find the lowest fuel prices at nearby garages.

“The use of bikes for getting around in our cities and the trend towards sharing will gain increasingly in importance in the years to come. With the new service to be offered in Düsseldorf and Cologne, we are extending the public transport services we provide for our customers with an extremely environmentally friendly mode of transport,” said Sylvia Lier, chair, Board of Management, Deutsche Bahn Connect. “We are delighted that we are now extending the Call a Bike service in partnership with Ford in order to make an even larger cycle hire network available to our customers throughout Germany. All FordPass Bike customers will also be able to use the entire Call a Bike service and vice versa, without having to repeat the initial registration process.”

Ford and Deutsche Bahn Connect have since 2013 collaborated on a car sharing service, and in August this year, Ford announced 100,000 free one-year Call a Bike memberships for its customers.

“We launched a joint car sharing project four years ago as part of Ford’s s expansion into mobility services,” said Wolfgang Kopplin, deputy chairman, Ford of Germany. “Our bike sharing project is yet another step on the way to implementing this strategy. It will enable us to supplement transportation systems in the cities with a completely pollution-free component and provide an environmentally friendly, and low-cost service for increasing numbers of customers.”

Deutsche Bahn Connect will operate the new service and handle customer enquiries for the fleet of brand new FordPass branded bikes that will have its own colour scheme. The bicycles can also be rented via the Call a Bike app.

For opinion on the automotive’s increasing presence in the cycling world and how this may pose problems for the cycling industry, check in with Ed Benjamin’s analysis here.