“Mobility” has become a buzzword in the automotive industry. It’s not enough anymore to simply make safe, reliable cars anymore. Brands now have to also boast about their ability to get people mobile products as well. For the last year or so, that’s mostly been just talk. Now, however, Ford is putting its stamp on modern mobility.
On Monday morning at the North American International Auto Show, Ford unveiled an all-new app called FordPass. With it, Ford owners — or anyone else — will be able to use the app to get around more easily thanks to car-sharing features and more.
Granted, this first generation of FordPass seems to be a bit more style than substance. That said, it is most certainly the first glimpse into what the new mobility universe will look and operate like in the coming decades. Let’s look at why.
First off, FordPass incorporates several different separate sub-systems: FordGuides, FordPay and FlightCar.
FordGuides will be kind of like General Motors’ OnStar, but rather than simply helping you with navigation, roadside assistance or restaurant reservations, FordGuides will help you solve your mobility concerns. Essentially, think of them as your personal mobility concierge — free of charge. You can easily access a live FordGuide with a single push of a button on the app.
That’s right; Ford won’t charge you to use FordGuides — Ford owner or otherwise. Instead, it sees its future as not just a carmaker but as the foremost mobility company — one that prides itself on having the best consumer experience. After all, in a few years, when you won’t even own or drive a car anymore, you’ll still need to have a reason to choose Ford.
FordPay is essentially what it sounds like: A way to pay for features of FordPass. With this initial introduction of FordPass, Ford has partnered with McDonald’s and 7-Eleven to make consuming fast food easier.
FlightCar, to me, might be the most interesting part of the FordPass app. At first, it’ll be used to help you share or borrow a vehicle when you travel, which is neat. However, down the road, it’ll be utilized for ride sharing, car sharing and multi-modal transportation. That means, in the future, FlightCar will get you from door to door anyway it needs to — from ride share to public light-rail to bicycle.
Lastly, in order to support this wild new idea of personal mobility that isn’t centered around owning a $40,000 hunk of steel, Ford is also launching FordHubs in New York, London, Shanghai and San Francisco that will have real-life FordGuides onsite to help you with mobility solutions.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, while this might seem a bit underwhelming, I encourage you to look at it in the context of the bigger picture. This is the first step of Ford moving itself from the role of simply selling you a car and into a brand new position: becoming the helpful, insightful brand that helps you get where you want to go, whether it’s behind the wheel of a Ford or on public transport.
So revel in the idea of having a car payment and needing to set reminders to get your car’s oil changed. Not long from now, those things will be Ford’s problem. All you’ll have to do is tell the app where you want to go and it’ll figure out the rest.