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  • Ford Smart Mobility is a long-term plan to use innovation and big data to take Ford to the next level
  • Projects developed over the past three years already include connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data analytics

Ford has identified five mobility megatrends in the world and is already in the forefront of collective efforts to understand the challenges faced and to develop solutions. Ford Smart Mobility is at the heart of the company’s response according to the company’s 2016/17 Sustainability Report.

Ford Smart Mobility is a long-term plan to use innovation and big data to take Ford to the next level in terms of connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, and the customer experience.

However, what was most important for Ford was to identify mobility megatrends as a starting point and only then could it start looking at solutions.

The global megatrends identified are:

  • Firstly, there is urbanisation. Growing urbanisation is contributing to a rise in the number of megacities which are those with a population of more than 10-million people. It is estimated that the number of megacities will increase from the current 28 to at least 41 by 2030, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The growing population in urban environments is resulting in increased traffic congestion. Ford’s research has shown that the existing infrastructure cannot cope with the number of vehicles expected to be on the roads in years to come while existing transportation systems will come under increasing pressure.

  • The second megatrend is the rapid growth of the global middle class with many of this group aspiring to own a car. This will bring its own set of challenges in terms of how people connect with one another as well as society’s ability to develop while safeguarding the natural environment.

Ford has determined that clean, safe, and affordable automotive transportation remains key to meeting global mobility needs while supporting human progress and economic development in communities across the world.

  • The third megatrend goes around issues of air quality and related health risks from traffic congestion. The World Health Organisation is one of many stressing that urban air pollution is a serious social and public health issue.

Poor air quality remains a severe challenge in many emerging economies. It can only be addressed through a significant, long-term societal effort. Substantial progress has been made in meeting air quality standards in more developed nations. This is being achieved through substantial reductions in vehicle emissions, while in some regions there is more than can be done on a multi-stakeholder basis to improve air quality standards.

  • The fourth megatrend relates to changing consumer attitudes and priorities as the digital world and sharing economy shapes new behavioural trends, with marked differences between generations.

For instance, in the United States today almost half the people surveyed say they like using their smartphones to plan their transportation, while more than a third say they would be interested in the possibility of renting their car to strangers if this was possible.

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  • The fifth and final megatrend identified by Ford’s research concerns climate change and resource constraints, citing the fact that the world’s demand for energy, water and raw material continues to grow putting more pressure on the environment.

Ford says that sustainable automotive transportation of the future may depend on overcoming restrictions that do not exist today. This, in turn, may require revolutionising society’s approach to mobility. Multimodal solutions and innovative ways to use, share and own cars are some of Ford’s key areas of focus.

These five megatrends have guided Ford’s thinking in terms of Smart Mobility while projects and initiatives developed over the past three years already include connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data analytics.

Ford says in its latest Sustainability Report that it must continue to listen to its customers and take cognisance of what they value and what they need, not only today but in the future.

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