Ford Motor Company and General Motors have announced significant investments in their future mobility efforts. Ford has established a new subsidiary, Ford Smart Mobility LLC while GM is moving towards putting its own autonomous vehicles on the road by acquiring San Francisco-based Cruise Automation.

Ford Smart Mobility

Co-based in Dearborn as well as the automaker’s tech lab in Palo Alto, California, the new Smart Mobility group is charged with making Ford a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles and customer experience as well as in data and analytics. “Ford Smart Mobility and expanding into mobility services are significant growth opportunities,” noted Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue."

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Ford’s new organization will be headed by Jim Hackett, who formerly sat on the automaker’s board of directors and served on its Audit, Sustainability and Innovation, and Nominating and Governance committees. Intended to operate like a conventional start-up company, Ford Smart Mobility will rely on a team of business and tech leaders from inside and outside the parent firm to independently design and build mobility services either alone or in concert with other start-ups and tech companies.

GM’s Cruise Automation

In acquiring Cruise Automation, General Motors is buying a small but highly efficient firm that has developed its own aftermarket autonomous driving system and specializes in software and rapid-development capabilities. Formed in 2013, Cruise will operate as an independent unit within GM’s recently formed Autonomous Vehicle Development Team led by Doug Parks, GM vice president of autonomous technology and vehicle execution. The deal is expected to close sometime during the second quarter.

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Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, outlined the significance of this acquisition and his intent to leverage it to the fullest extent possible. “Cruise provides our company with a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry. We intend to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team.”

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