Ford launches car-sharing pilot in U.S., London

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday said it will launch a pilot car-share program in six U.S. cities and London, and has created a third prototype electric bicycle as it continues to experiment with different modes of transportation.

The Dearborn automaker said its offering its new Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing service to 14,000 customers in six U.S. cities, and 12,000 customers in London. Under the program, customers who finance their vehicles through Ford Motor Credit will be able to rent their vehicle to pre-screened drivers for short-term use. The vehicle owners can set the price for the car rental.

Separately, Ford announced MoDe: Flex, its third electric bicycle that runs on a battery and folds and stores inside any Ford vehicle, where it can be charged while stowed. Ford is not currently making the bike available to the public.

The programs are part of 25 mobility experiments Ford launched six months ago. Last month, Ford announced a separate car-share program, called GoDrive, would be launched in London.

“As most vehicles are parked and out of use much of the time, this can help us gauge our customers’ desires to pick up extra cash and keep their vehicles in use,” said David McClelland, Ford Credit vice president of marketing, in a written statement.

U.S. customers will partake in the new car-share pilot through ride-share company Getaround, while London customers will use easyCar Club.

The program is being offered through November to Ford Credit customers in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and California locations including Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco.

The ride-sharing industry is showing strong growth and more traditional auto companies are clamoring to get aboard.

Avis spent $491 million two years ago to buy Zipcar, tapping into strong demand for short-term car rentals in urban areas. Enterprise runs CarShare and Daimler AG runs Car2Go in multiple European and U.S. cities.

The number of users has doubled over six years, according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California. While it is tiny compared with the traditional car rental industry, annual revenue has reached about $400 million, researchers found.

Ford’s latest bicycle follows MoDe:Me and MoDe: Pro that launched in March. The MoDe: Flex will come with a smartwatch app that increases electric pedal assist based on heart rate, and provides safety notifications for hazards like potholes.

The Associated Press contributed.

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