MOU signing ceremony; [L-R] Chen Jing, vice president of Zotye Auto; Jin Zheyong, chairman of Zotye Auto; Marcy Klevorn, executive vice president and president of mobility, Ford Motor Company; Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president, Ford Asia Pacific.
Image: Ford
Ford Smart Mobility has signed a memorandum of understanding with Zotye Auto to form a $20million joint venture in China.

The two car companies plan to supply ride-hailing fleet operators and drivers with electric vehicles and solutions such as vehicle leasing, data-driven fleet management, in-vehicle digital services, vehicle customization and connectivity.

The vehicles will be made by the Zotye-Ford manufacturing joint venture, and marketed under a new brand; this will be based in Zhejiang province, where the services will initially be offered.

The JV will also collaborate with local governments and cities on the development of data connectivity and software for integrated transportation solutions, to tackle issues such as traffic congestion and flow, to enhance commuter experience, and to lay the foundations for V2X and autonomous vehicles.

“As people and cities across the world increasingly adopt new mobility services, we also need to work together to ensure these services are solving key issues such as accessibility and air quality, versus adding to them,” Ford's head of of mobility, Marcy Klevorn, said in a statement. “By providing smart-enabled electric vehicles for the ride-hailing market, this new mobility joint venture will be a key part of the solution for China’s cities.”

Ford GoRide brings mobility to healthcare users in Michigan

In the USA, meanwhile, Ford Smart Mobility has launched GoRide, a transportation service for patients with non-emergency medical appointments. It is working in south-east Michigan with healthcare provider Beaumont Health to transport patients to over 200 facilities, providing on-demand wheelchair-accessible Transit vehicles and professionally trained drivers to take people for treatment or appointments.

The service is aimed at people without easy access to public transportation as well as wheelchair users, the elderly and others with special needs; it can be booked up to 30 days in advance, and it is believed that the system will help reduce missed appointments, get patients discharged and home from hospital more quickly, and reduce re-admission rates.

Skoda recently announced that it is trialling a pilot project called CareDriver in Munich, and it is thought that healthcare is an important and growing sector in which mobility services can be deployed.

-Farah Alkhalisi