News of Ford’s decision to close the Chariot service it acquired in September 2016 in a bid to enter the mobility market reflects the challenges OEM’s face as they try to move away from their cornerstone in automobile manufacturing. With the evolving mobility patterns aligning with the need to reduce carbon emissions the world over, cars will not only make the transition to electric, or other zero-emission, powertrains, but their numbers will begin to thin on streets and roads. This second trend is one made possible by the evolving field of autonomy, with massive resources being dedicated to its development by OEMs, service providers, and software companies from Ford and its competitors, to Google, and Uber exploring the technology and cities like New York initiating pilots.

Now, however, these ambitions are beginning to run against the hard reality of the market as Chariot failed to build a ridership large enough to justify its continued existence, much like one of the first shared shuttle services Kutsuplus which pioneered the model yet closed in 2012. The shuttering of Chariot follows in the wake of BMW’s struggles to make its car-sharing service DriveNow profitable in the Nordics, recently ceasing operations in Sweden, who have now joined forces with Daimler to engage in a partnership on carsharing services.

The experiences of Ford and other OEMs as well as those of struggling mobility services—heavy competition among ride-hailing leaders like Uber and Lyft is mirrored in other fields like scooter-sharing with Bird and Lime vying for market share—suggest that the transition may not be easy or a foregone conclusion, yet efforts from other leading OEMs like VW, whose subsidiary MOIA operates electric shuttle services in Germany, suggest that OEMs continue to see value in the field and hope to make it a viable business market.

Bloomberg details the story behind the close of Chariot

Crunchbase assess the realities of new mobility services and apps 

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