After General Motors announced last week that it would start commercial deployment of automated mobility services in 2019, Ford has announced updates on its own automated driving programme.
In August 2016 Ford announced plans for a level 4 automated vehicle, and has now confirmed that it will be a bespoke design specifically to meet the needs of commercial fleet operations.
Production of the new AV would get underway at Ford's Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan, as the 2020 electric crossover that is being built will be moving to Mexico.
According to commentators, while Ford would not be the first on the AV circuit, it has a different road map from GM. GM plans to launch its automated driving services with a heavily modified Chevrolet Bolt EV, demonstrated last week on the streets of San Francisco. At this juncture, GM plans to push ahead with exclusively electric lineup of its automated vehicles and the Bolt would not be the only offering although it is first.
Ford on the other hand is looking to leverage its experience in serving a range of special vehicle markets including taxis, police vehicles and other commercial applications. In a blog post by executive vice president Jim Farley, Ford revealed plans to make its new AV commercial grade.
"You're starting to see the foundation of Ford's bet on A-V's (autonomous-drive vehicles). We're very excited about what we are doing," said Jim Farley, president of global markets for Ford, CNBC reported.
The company is however not revealing many details about the autonomous-drive vehicle it plans to build in Michigan except that it will have commercial grade performance and durability.
"While others are focusing on A-V's for ride-hailing, our business model will be much more diverse," said Farley. "We'll move people and goods."