Ford Motor Company recently announced plans to develop a “smart city” based on data collected from autonomous vehicles, connected infrastructure and ride/bike sharing programs. Granted, the company doesn’t have a presence in all of those spaces just yet, but it has said it’s ready to put dollars and resources behind the venture.
The 113-year-old manufacturer wants to create urban utopias where curbsides don’t get clogged by illegal parking, eco-friendly bicycles help commuters navigate the final mile of their trips to work, and key arteries leading into and out of downtowns aren’t stifled by heavy traffic during rush hour.
Can you imagine? Well, sure. Perhaps all we can do is imagine it. By the definition of the word, utopia means an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or near perfect qualities. Literally, it means no place.
But, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to this new venture. The concept is to use its dedicated Ford Smart Mobility subsidiary and City Solutions division to explore ways the auto manufacturer can optimize the city of the future.
A key tenet of the plan is to work with municipalities and leaders around the world to tailor services it provides to each city’s unique needs. The company has said it will work with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a coalition of U.S. mayors.
It could have interesting implications on the car wash industry. Whether through a shift in what is an ideal car wash location, or through a changing customer base to include more fleet vehicles, autonomous vehicles, or … fewer vehicles.
In the utopian future city, Ford could also envision restricting certain vehicles from certain parts of cities at certain times, or staggering work and shuttle times to reduce congestion and pollution. This could change staffing models for car washes, operating hours, peak times, etc.
Perhaps there’s a surge in bike washes coming. Or perhaps not.