Ford has launched a peer-to-peer car-sharing service in the US, India, UK and Germany.
The service enables people to rent their Ford Credit-financed motor vehicles to pre-screened drivers for short-term use.
It is set to rival other car-sharing services such as Lyft and Zipcar and offer an alternative to taxis and Uber.
Like customers of the aforementioned companies, users of Ford’s car-sharing service communicate via a mobile app.
Ford piloted the service in California, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Portland, Oregon. US users participated via the software of ride-sharing company Getaround.
Ford also has an experimental service in Dearborn, Colorado, known as Car Swap. This enables Ford employees to use a mobile app to find a car to use that meets their requirements.
Following the pilot, Ford has extended its US program and has launched car-sharing services in London (UK), Bangalore (India) and Germany.
Ford partners with local providers
The London service, known as GoDrive, uses a smartphone app to reserve and subsequently access cars for one-way trips with guaranteed parking. It uses the rental system of car-sharing service easyCar Club.
Meanwhile, in both New York and London, Ford is offering a service known as Dynamic Shuffle, which enables users to be picked up and dropped off at their necessary locations.
Ford’s car-sharing service in Germany, known as Ford Carsharing, works in collaboration with car-sharing company Flinkster. The service enables Ford Carsharing customers to use Flinkster vehicles and for Flinkster customers to use the Ford fleet.
In Bangalore, India, Ford is collaborating with car rental company Zoomcar to test a service that would enable groups of users to share a vehicle among multiple drivers.
“Consumers tell us they are interested in sharing the costs of vehicle ownership, and this programme will help us understand how much that extends to customers who are financing a Ford vehicle,” said vice president of marketing at Ford Credit, David McLelland.
“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.”
The services form part of the growing ride-sharing industry, which Ford says is set to grow by $6bn (£3.82bn) by 2020.
Mobile technology causing controversy
New entries into the transport market such as Uber have caused controversy due to their undercutting of the public transport industry.
In September 2014 taxi drivers in San Francisco International Airport deliberately blocked terminals, clogged lanes, and refused to pick up passengers. This was in protest at the airport allowing rideshare companies Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to operate at the airport.
Last week French taxi drivers publicly protested against Uber and the protest saw tyres being burned, cars being overturned and car windows smashed. In response, the French Interior Minister ordered Uber’s app UberPOP to be banned.
Ride-sharing and car-sharing schemes have not yet provoked the ire of taxi drivers. But if the growth in this market proves to be as strong as Ford predicts, it might not be long before taxi drivers have Ford in their sights too.