Image: Ford

Ford Motor Company has created a new organization called Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, to be based at its campus under development in Corktown, Detroit. The new company is tasked with accelerating Ford’s autonomous vehicle business and capitalizing market opportunities, and will include Ford’s activities in self-driving integration; AV research and advanced engineering; development of AV networks for transportation-as-a-service; and user experience, as well as business strategy and development. It will also hold Ford’s ownership stake in Argo AI, Pittsburg, Ford’s partner in self-driving system development.

Ford confirms that it expects to invest $4billion into AVs through to 2023, including its $1billion stake in Argo AI. Heading the new company as CEO is Sherif Marakby, currently vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, and its board will be chaired by Marcy Klevorn, currently executive vice president and president for mobility.

The reorganization, effective August 1st2018, extends to Ford’s global operations division, too: this will now encompass information technology as well as the global order-to-delivery system, integrating both teams, technologies and processes. This will be led by executive vice president Joe Hinrichs, with Jeff Lemmer as vice president and CIO.

Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement: “The evolution of computing power and IT have helped bring great products to customers – from cars to tablets. We can now harness this technology to unlock a new world of vehicle personalization, supply chain choreography and inventory leaness that rivals any industrial model in the world… while better serving customers and dealers and improving our overall fitness.”

Corktown campus supports Ford's mobility strategy

Ford’s new campus in Corktown is described by the company as “an innovation hub for the future of transportation.” It will work on autonomous and electrification technologies, as well as designing connected transportation and mobility systems including urban mobility services. The AV and EV teams are housed in a refurbished former factory, and Ford’s purchase of the landmark former Michigan Central Station building, the former Detroit Public Schools Book Depository and further vacant lots and buildings supports its plan to have at least 1.2million square feet of space in the district. It intends to employ around 2500 people there on its mobility team by 2022, with the campus also accommodating partners and other businesses, community and retail space, and residential housing.

Hackett said recently: “What Rouge was to Ford in the industrial age, Corktown can be for Ford in the information age. It will be the proving ground where Ford and our partners design and test the services and solutions for the way people are going to live and get around tomorrow… This will be the kind of campus where the emerging economy thrives – a collaborative ecosystem of companies, educators, investors and innovators.”

-Farah Alkhalisi