The automaker has been pursuing two parallel tracks that were supposed to eventually combine ahead of a planned commercial launch in 2021. The process involves both figuring out what its initial AV business model might look like, while separately developing autonomous vehicle technology. Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based company into which Ford invested $1 billion in 2017, is developing the driving automation system and high-definition maps for the self-driving vehicles. Ford has also been testing its go-to-market strategy through pilot programs with partners like Walmart, Domino’s pizza and Postmates, and even some local businesses. The company now says that it needs to study the long-term impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on customer behaviors, stating that: “Understanding customer behavior is a critically important part of building a new mobility service built around trust and making people’s lives easier. Taking the time to research changes in customer behaviors provides Ford with an opportunity to evaluate and potentially change our go-to-market strategy to meet new consumer demands.”
The COVID-19 pandemic adds further complexity to the already complex AV area. However, even before the outbreak, many players postponed their plans regarding the introduction of AV solutions. Major challenges remain (in terms of technology, policy, upscaling, etc.) and even 2022 may be considered offensive for a launch. From before we have also seen an increased focus on deliveries and goods, which only becomes more likely in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Written by Victor Malmsten Lundgren, RISE.
1. 2020-04-28. Ford postpones autonomous vehicle service until 2022.