In a partnership with its German dealer network, Ford has announced what could possibly become a new business model for growing car-sharing programs.
The initiative, called FORD2GO, is the first nationwide car-sharing program in Europe backed by an automotive manufacturer that also incorporates dealerships. The program calls for participating Ford dealers across Germany to offer services to people enrolled in the programs in their home towns for improved access to shared cars.
Even more important for Ford and its dealers, FORD2GO allows potential customers to experience Ford vehicles, which could help increase sales.
The program was initiated from a partnership among Ford of Germany, the German Ford dealers association FHD GmbH, and DB Rent GmbH – the company behind the Flinkster car-sharing program.
As part of Ford2GO, DB Rent has developed a Web-based booking system along with iOS and Android smartphone apps for private and commercial customers participating in the Ford program.
The program is one of a few initiatives that have grown out of Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford’s concern with the future of urban mobility – many of which were addressed in his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
As outlined in the company’s Blueprint for Mobility, dealing with growing congestion and environmental concerns will require companies to come up with new and innovative ideas for urban mobility, including shared services like Ford2GO.
A Ford Motor Company-sponsored poll shows that more than half of Europeans would consider car-sharing, either through a formal program or through private arrangements.
The FORD2GO presents an interesting potential business model for the U.S. as more carmakers look for ways to become a more integral part of the growing car-sharing market now driven by companies like ZipCar and Enterprise.
The challenge with implementing a dealer-centered car program in the U.S. is that there aren’t that many dealerships in urban areas, which makes accessibility to the vehicles an issue.
But if Ford can figure out the logistics, it could pave the way for an entirely new way to share cars in the U.S. while drawing new consumers to the brand as well.