In a future where cars will be able to drive themselves without any need for human assistance, companies like Ford might end up operating more like an airline than a traditional carmaker.
Rest assured, this isn’t about taking to the skies, but rather understanding how to maximize the time these cars spend on the road, as well as understanding how to sell seats with regards to ride-hailing and delivery services.
“Autonomous vehicles are a per-mile business, not an ownership business,” said Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles. “It’s the same thing for the airline industry. You make money with high utilization. Your fixed costs don’t change much.”
Marakby was in Washington earlier this month, speaking about the aviation industry’s imprint on Ford plants, future delivery projects and future plans that would incorporate walking robots. The Blue Oval also wants to start a commercial business using autonomous-driving technology in 2021.
While the Ford exec didn’t specify which airlines he talked with, he did say that their requirements are similar to those of a business that would revolve around autonomous tech, reports Autonews Europe.
“We’ve learned a lot of things we’ve already incorporated into our model about utilization, and that’s what drives the business,” he stated. “We are designing our first car to go hundreds of thousands of miles in a shorter period of time, and it’s the same as airlines using expensive planes and refurbishing them every few years.”
He also added that Ford has analyzed its Escape hybrids going back 15 years in order to see what can go wrong on them – not in a typical 150,000 miles but in a half a million miles.
“That’s what’s useful for us,” he said.