GM Continues to Speed Ahead of Ford, Despite CEO Shift

  • Natalie Mattila
  • May 26, 2017
  • 0

General Motors Co. is leading the pack in mobility, even ahead of Ford Motor Co., thanks to its Maven program, 10% investment in Lyft, and rising popularity of the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Mobility Finance has learned.

“I would say GM is ahead of Ford,” an unnamed source told Mobility Finance. “I am not sure if Ford is behind the industry, but I do think they are behind GM.”

General Motors spent billions to acquire Cruise Automation, and one reason they did that was to hire young, engineering talent to help develop GM’s autonomous vehicles, the source said.

And although Ford invested in Argo AI earlier this year, GM is still “a little ahead” in the autonomous area, he said. Ford is targeted for the deployment of its level 4 autonomous vehicles by 2021. “GM doesn’t have a date, but the CFO mentioned in December that he feels like 2021 is a long time away, indicating that GM’s autonomous deployment will occur sooner.”

Additionally, as it relates to electrification, “the Chevrolet Bolt is the vehicle GM has concentrated its efforts on making autonomous for its work with Lyft,” the source said. “And Maven has also made Bolts available in California to Uber and Lyft drivers via its Express Drive and now Maven Gig business.” General Motors Financial is also diverting off-lease vehicles into Uber and Lyft.

Maven is financed currently through General Motors Financial, which has capital experience in managing large fleets of vehicles, the source said. GM has thousands of dealers around world and the U.S. that they use to clean, maintain, store, and fix these vehicles, which is a “substantial situation,” he said. Companies that don’t have that infrastructure will have to address this before autonomous vehicles come to market, he added.

While Ford has made an investment in rideshare Chariot, GM invested $500 million in Lyft and also owns its Maven carshare program. “Ford doesn’t have anything similar, and that is really why I think they had the CEO change,” the source said.

Ford, following pressure from shareholders over sagging stock prices, named Jim Hackett as its new CEO. Former CEO Mark Fields agreed to resign, effective May 19.

Hackett recently served as chairman of Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary created last year to handle the automaker’s investments in autonomous vehicles and new mobility services.

And by appointing Hackett, Ford appears to be following its top mobility competitor’s footsteps — such as General Motors Co.‘s — to more aggressively pursue the mobility sector.

Investors are “demanding” a clear course chart relative to mobility and autonomous endeavors at Ford, and that’s why they made the change, he added.

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