CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC Sherif Marakby has posted a detailed overview of the automaker's self-driving strategy, perhaps in an effort to show that the company will push through with its plans under his leadership. Marakby, who took over as CEO in July 2018, talks about how Ford is tackling each of the elements needed to launch a self-driving service by 2021, as well as its recents partnerships. See, the company teamed up with Walmart and Postmates to figure out how to offer businesses its self-driving cars for delivery. Marakby also showed off Ford Fusions loaded with a self-driving system that the company has been testing in Miami during a press event.
The CEO says Ford is still working closely with Argo AI to develop the technology behind its self-driving platform. In particular, Argo AI teamed up with Ford's chassis and powertrain teams to gain a better understanding of vehicle dynamics and to improve the system's controls. He also explained that the Ford Commercial Solutions the company launched earlier this year will manage its self-driving fleets and has in fact been overseeing its tests in Miami.
Marakby seems confident that Ford will be able to build a transportation and delivery network due to the company's experience running its Chariot ride-sharing and GoRide medical transport services. "With both of these services, we're already managing and operating large fleets while directly solving real mobility challenges," he said. Ford is also working with companies other than Walmart and Postmates to learn what they need and be able to provide those when the time comes.
The CEO told CNBC that Ford is launching self-riding services in order to earn money from its efforts. It's investing $4 billion into the technology's development through 2023, after all, and the company's isn't quickly going to earn all that money back from selling its autonomous cars. "We're laser focused on profitability," he said. "While the vehicle is expensive, initially we're deploying it in service so the cost per mile for transportation for a person or a business is going to be lower and will be profitable for us."