Ford autonomous vehicle service launch delayed until 2022

Ford has postponed their plans to launch an autonomous vehicle service, citing the outbreak of COVID-19, which has forced them to rethink their go-to-market strategy as the reason for the delay.

The company will now look to launch the service in 2022 after their “mobility” segment – which includes the autonomous vehicle service program – recorded a US$368 million loss for the quarter.

Delaying the launch will give Ford the chance to study the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on consumers and alter their go-to-market strategy accordingly, with the company believing consumer behaviour has already been heavily altered by the pandemic.

“We believe this pandemic could affect our customers’ lives and work for many years to come, with zero touch as an integral part of their lives going forward, perhaps spurring on even more interest in adoption of autonomy especially goods delivery and micromobility,” said Ford chief operating officer Jim Fairley.

Ford have previously worked with partners such as Walmart, Dominos and Postmates on pilot programs to test potential go-to-market strategies, but it is unclear if the company still plans on going down these paths in the future.

The autonomous vehicles to be used by Ford are being built by Argo AI, a company Ford invested US$1 billion in back in in 2017 to build virtual driver systems and high-definition maps.

In March of this year, Argo AI announced that they had suspended real-world testing of their autonomous vehicles until further notice.

The news of the autonomous vehicle service delay comes as Ford announced a US$2 billion loss in the first quarter of 2020, with more bad news expected in quarter two as COVID-19 continues to disrupt business.

Source: Yahoo finance | Ford postpones autonomous vehicle service until 2022

1 May 2020