The next time you buy Ford, instead of buying a car to keep you might just get access to an entire fleet of autonomous cars.
Ford CEO Mark Fields revealed today during a meeting with employees in Palo Alto that not only is the company building an autonomous car, it plans to launch an entire fleet of autonomous vehicle by 2021 to create its own ride-hailing service by 2021.
The Ford fleet would contain commercial level 4 vehicles just one level below a completely autonomous system. The company hasn’t said who will operate its ride-hailing service.
Instead of building an autonomous car marketed for individual ownership like Tesla and others are aiming for, Fields says launching it with an Uber-like ride-hailing service would be cheaper.
“The first application of the fully autonomous vehicle will be commercial applications, whether it’s ride-hailing or parcel delivery,” Fields said. “These vehicles, given the technology they have, will still be relatively costly.
Competition for top automotive talent in Silicon Valley is about to get even more intense with Apple, Ford, Tesla and Google all pursuing self-driving tech. Ford says it plans to expand its R&D facilities in the area and double staff by the end of the year.
Fields said he thinks in early part of the next decade a primary source of the company’s revenue will come from self-driving cars as a service, either through car sharing or ride-hailing.