In a recent article for Reuters, Paul Lienert (@pliernet) and Julia Love (@ByJuliaLove) announce Ford’s participation in the growing car-sharing economy. You know an industry is having a big impact when a 110-year-old company, which survived the Great Recession and brought driving to the masses, jumps on board. At Near Me we’re constantly learning about access instead of ownership, so it doesn’t surprise us that a big name like Ford sees long term benefits with this merger. What does surprise us is that it took Ford this long to join! Maybe they were deciding if this was a viable industry or was merely a fad. It is now quite clear that these companies are here to stay, and turning a substantial profit.
“Unlike peer-to-peer sharing services, the automakers' ventures maintain their own on-demand rental fleets, as does Zipcar, a U.S. ride-sharing company that was acquired in 2013 by rental-car company Avis Budget Group Inc (CAR.O).”
A new car used to be a status symbol, or a much-anticipated present for turning sixteen. Today, many are turning to this alternative service to get around. Ford is embracing this strategy and investing in more flexible, on-demand-models consumers want.
Ford is following in the footsteps of its competitor, General Motors, which announced a partnership with San Francisco’s RelayRides three years ago. More European automakers operate or are considering joining:
Daimler AG's (DAIGn.DE)
BMW AG's (BMWG.DE)
Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE)
Quicar and Greenwheels.
RelayRides and Getaround are startups funded mostly by venture capitals that have yet to go public. Getaround has limited its service to a few U.S. cities including San Francisco, Austin, Portland and San Diego. The interest from European car companies shows that it may soon be a global trend.
It is intriguing to see big brands partner with car-share companies to make this service accessible to more people. Will Asia be next? Convenience coupled with affordability will always attract loyal customers, and attaching a familiar name, such as Ford, conveys the most important quality in today’s marketplaces -- trust.