Ford is leading the transportation revolution
San Francisco is set to benefit from Ford’s latest expansion into alternative travel, as the company acquires Chariot and prepares to launch GoBike.
So what do we know about Chariot? It launched in 2014, and its shuttles fill the gap between cab and bus services as a flexible, cost-effective option. Chariot uses Ford Transit shuttles, currently operating around 100 of them around 28 San Francisco Bay routes. Currently, these routes are crowd-sourced based on rider demand, but eventually will operate in dynamically, using algorithms to map the most efficient routes.
Chariot becoming mainstream could be a godsend for city traffic – for every shuttle in service during peak travel times, congestion may be reduced by potentially 25 vehicles, according to a KPMG study. Ford plans to expand Chariot beyond San Francisco within the next 18 months and develop it as the cornerstone of its planned global shuttle services business.
Ali Vahabzadeh is Chariot’s co-founder and CEO, and is overjoyed for Chariot to become part of Ford Smart Mobility: “Chariot’s mission from day one has been to solve the commute by providing a mass transit solution that is fast, reliable and affordable for people living in today’s cities. We started our Chariot service with Ford’s 15-passenger vehicles and continue to use Ford Transit shuttles to this day. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be Ford Smart Mobility’s first acquisition and leverage its leadership in transportation to fulfill Chariot’s goals worldwide.”
Ford is also investing in another popular mode of transportation in the area – bicycles. Motivate, the world leader in bike share, is collaborating with Ford and city officials to bring the number of bikes in San Francisco Bay up to 7,000 by the end of 2018. Ford’s GoBike project launches next year, and will be accessible through the FordPass platform.
Ford hopes to be part of the solution for city overcrowding in the future with these measures. CEO of Motivate, Jay Walder, is similarly aware of the shift in transport around us: “A transportation revolution is coming to the Bay Area. This unique partnership with Ford shows that bike share is no longer alternative transportation; it is central to creating smart, on-demand mobility that represents our values for equity and sustainability.”
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IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.