Ford CEO Takes a Philosophical Approach in Widening its Vision of Mobility

Ford's smart-city vision little more than an 'interesting premise,' one industry analyst says.

CES 2018 - Ford
Andrej Sokolow—Andrej Sokolow/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Ford has widened its view of mobility from self-driving vehicles to consider the cities it will operate in, the automaker's CEO said Tuesday.

In a keynote speech at the CES 2018 in Las Vegas, Ford CEO Jim Hackett emphasized that smart infrastructure and shared transportation is called for if municipalities are to run well, alongside autonomous driving. 

"Technology has developed at the expense of a shared sense of belonging," Hackett said. "It's time to bring the streets into the shared economy."

One industry observer lauded Hackett's view of positive changes for society at large, but suggested his company could do a better job to detail how they're going to help motorists in the more immediate term.

"Ford's vision for the smart city is an interesting premise, but at this point it's not much more than that," Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds said in an email.

"Bringing this smart city to reality will require significant municipal cooperation and investment, and it remains to be seen if local governments share Ford's ambitions," said Caldwell, who added that she found it admirable that Ford was looking at how connected vehicles can change society for the better.

That said, the future Hackett spoke of remains a long way off. "In the meantime, Ford has an opportunity to better articulate how they're going to improve the lives of car shoppers today," Caldwell said.

Ford has recently unveiled an array of partnerships as part of its plan to deploy autonomous vehicles.