Chariot, Ford’s app-based shuttle service, has announced it will throw in the towel due to the rapidly changing “mobility landscape” of major cities. When the company launched in 2014 with Jim Hackett at the helm, it joined a bundle of “microtransit” firms hoping to undercut brands like Uber while providing a viable alternative to public transportation.
Ford acquired the company in March of 2016 for a reported $65 million, proving that not every mobility firm can be a golden goose. It snagged Hackett and made him Ford CEO roughly a year later, where he continued to oversee Chariot as chairman of the automaker’s Smart Mobility subsidiary. Unfortunately, the service is no longer deemed sustainable.
On the upside of things, this ought to put a few coins in the jar labeled “Restructuring Program” at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters.
Chariot, which serves nearly a dozen cities, conveyed the news via its blog, having unveiled a revised holiday schedule just four weeks earlier.
In today’s mobility landscape, the wants and needs of customers and cities are changing rapidly. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause Chariot’s riders and our enterprise customers. We are committed to ensuring our customers are aware of the decision and have time to make alternative transportation arrangements.
We are truly grateful to our commuters, enterprise customers, and partners for your support over the past five years. Chariot was built on a commitment to help reduce congestion, ease the commute and improve quality of life in cities, and since our start, we have provided our customers with more than 3 million rides. In addition, we helped Ford build their mobility business, and their experience with Chariot continues to inform their mobility efforts and design decisions for the future.
While the company has been active in several major cities (including New York and London), and appeared to be in good health, these types of services haven’t fared particularly well. Leap Transit permanently parked its luxury buses just three months after its 2015 launch, while Bridj moved is shuttle service out of the U.S. in early 2017 to focus on Australia.
Friday, January 25th will be the last day of Chariot services on commuter routes in the United Kingdom. The same will be true in the United States exactly one week later. All operations are said to cease by the end of March.
[Images: Ford Motor Co.]