EMAILED ON September 12, 2016 BY THE HUSTLE

Ford Bought a Private Shuttle Startup and Invested in Bikes. Wait, What?

On Friday, Ford announced that it’s buying Chariot, a two-year-old rideshare startup based in San Francisco.

They’re also partnering with Motivate — the company behind New York’s Citibikes — to massively expand the Bay Area’s bike share program (which will henceforth be called Ford GoBikes).

Both investments showcase Ford’s bold intentions: dominate as many parts of the transportation ecosystem as possible in order to evolve from an automaker into an “auto and mobility company.”

What the heck is Chariot?

Chariot operates a shuttle service around San Francisco that costs about the same as the smelly, old bus (as low as $3/ride) and is equally reliable… making it a true alternative to public transportation.

And since they “crowdsourced” most of their 26 current routes based on user data, they operate efficiently, serving only the neighborhoods that truly need them.

While the exact acquisition amount is unknown, the plan is for Chariot’s team to join the Ford Smart Mobility Program where they’ll expand to at least 5 other markets. That way, everyone can ride a private shuttle and pretend they work for a hot startup.

As for the partnership with Motivate…

Thanks to Ford’s sponsorship, the Bay Area’s shareable bike supply will increase from 700 to 7,000 (with hundreds of new drop off/pick up stations) by 2018.

Plus, the company plans to integrate Ford GoBikes into the FordPass app, a surprisingly cool app that’s quietly becoming a one-stop shop for all transportation needs.

Not only can Ford owners use it to schedule maintenance, but even those that don’t have a Ford vehicle can use it to find parking, plan the best route to dinner… and starting soon, locate the nearest bike pick-up.

“We’re thinking about this as an ecosystem,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields. “How do the bikes not only serve a need… but also feed data that will allow us to provide them even more services? For example, if it’s going to rain, we can send them a note that says ‘you should take the shuttle, and here’s an incentive to do that.’”

Amazing how it’s no longer good enough for car companies to just make, you know, cars.

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