Recognizing the emergence of autonomous vehicle technology, Ford has decided to consolidate all its efforts into a separate business unit called Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. The new division will be responsible for autonomous vehicle research and advanced engineering, self-driving systems integration, user experience, business strategy and business development.

Ford Autonomous Vehicles will also hold the company’s stake in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based partner for self-driving system development. In addition to this $1 billion investment in Argo AI, Ford said it is committing an additional $3 billion through 2023 to support its autonomous vehicle efforts. Sherif Marakby, who currently serves as vice president of autonomous vehicles and Electrification for the auto maker, will assume the role of CEO for the new unit.

“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self-driving value chain, from technology development to business model innovation to user experience,” said Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.”

Realignment in strategy

With the establishment of a separate business unit for autonomous vehicles, Ford has also realigned its product development, primarily its electric vehicle effort, which is called Team Edison. That group will now be headed by Ted Cannis, global director of electrification. In addition to developing new vehicles, the electrification strategy also includes rethinking the ownership experience, including making charging as effortless as possible as well as providing over-the-air software updates to upgrade vehicle capabilities and features.

These changes reflect the evolving nature of the industry, which are being driven by new technologies for self-driving and electric vehicles. “We’re looking at every part of our business, making it more fit and ensuring that every action we take is driven by what will serve our customers in a way that supports our fitness and performance goals,” Hackett said.

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