Ford invests in largest bike share firm in US, creates ‘Smart Mobility’ company

Car maker Ford has thrown its weight into the bike sharing world, investing in the Motivate business, the largest operator of bike share in the US.

The deal – one of many Fortune 500 companies now backing bikes – is now set to provide 7,000 bikes for the Bay Area share scheme.

In a sign that Ford is looking beyond private car use, the automotive giant has also bought Chariot, a crowdsourced San-Francisco shuttle service.

In the statement announcing the off-shoot business, CEO Mark Fields revealed the setting up of a new division tasked with advising cities directly on mobility solutions. This will be called Ford Smart Mobility LCC and be managed by Jim Hackett.

“We are pleased to be collaborating with Motivate in San Francisco and the Bay area to add more transportation options for residents and visitors with the new Ford GoBike bike sharing,” said Jim Hackett, Ford Smart Mobility LLC. “As we expand our business model to include new forms of transportation, we are introducing new customers to Ford and providing more sustainable modes of transportation.”

“A transportation revolution is coming to the Bay Area!” said Jay H. Walder, CEO of Motivate, operator of Bay Area Bike Share. “This unique partnership with Ford shows that bike share is no longer ‘alternative’ transportation, it is central to creating smart, on-demand mobility that represents our values for equity and sustainability. Thanks to the vision and leadership from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and city leaders from across the region, bike share will soon be available for all in the Bay Area.”

The expansion of the bike share scheme is set to be completed by the end of 2018, with a further 120 sites identified for development of docking.

Increasingly automotive firms are looking toward far from traditional solutions to mobility, with many looking squarely at the electric bike market.

Back in October General Motors, Vauxhall’s parent, also held a conference with its investors discussing the “future of personal mobility”.