Detroit is the city that put the world on wheels. Now, there’s never been a better time for the big three automakers to continue to lead the way in mobility innovation. However, some of the major questions of our day still need to be answered: How will we move people as urban areas globally continue to crowd? What are the new business models of the future? How will Detroit continue to innovate and lead in the industry?
Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, took the stage recently at the Mackinac Policy Conference to speak to leaders from around the State of Michigan on mobility. As Uber continues to grow estimating a global impact of 50,000 new jobs per month, and autonomous vehicles loom in the future, Ford called for an open mind for new business models ahead on the horizon.
“There will be business models we haven’t even thought of. Ford and other OEM’s can’t be afraid,” Ford said. “We have to see this as our ultimate opportunity.”
Ford believes Detroit will play an important role bringing innovation to life, and that the large automakers must be more present than ever paying attention to new startup companies. The following are his predictions for the future of mobility and Detroit’s role in the industry.
Mobility in the city will be much more connected.
Ford believes that the way we move in urban areas will change drastically. Modes of transportation in urban areas will need to be linked together. For example, you might be uptown and need to go downtown. Your transportation options could include taking a subway, walking, biking or riding a bus, and all of these modes will be communicating with each other to better inform you. Outside of the city, Ford believes we will still drive cars and that not much will change.
Related: Who Exactly Are Uber's Drivers?
Ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles will continue.
Ford does see ride-sharing as a trend that will continue, and autonomous vehicles as a part of the future. He also warned that there will be many business models that aren’t thought of yet. Ford said every day they are learning about a new company that didn’t exist a year ago. There’s still plenty of opportunity to innovate.
Michigan is where the next ideas will be brought to life.
Ford believes that the new business models and ideas can come from anywhere including Silicon Valley, but Michigan with it’s strong manufacturing background will be a great choice for making new products. With the Detroit area graduating one of the highest concentrations of engineers, there is plenty of talent and resources to help bring new ideas to life.
Ford isn’t the only one boosting the opportunity for mobility innovation in Detroit. Techstars just opened their Techstars Mobility program this past year, announcing the first batch of mobility startups. These ten new companies will work with large corporations like Ford to create and scale their companies.
We’re excited to see what happens here in the Motor City to address the next challenges of urban mobility.