Ford to Sell Driverless Cars to Public by 2025, CEO Says


Ford intends to start selling driverless cars to the public by about 2025, its chief executive officer said.

The goal is to lower costs enough to make autonomous vehicles affordable to millions of people, CEO Mark Fields said in a speech Monday at company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. After starting with sales of robot taxis to ride-hailing services by 2021, “around mid-decade we’ll make vehicles available for people to purchase for themselves,” he said.

“We’re dedicated to putting autonomous vehicles on the road for millions of people, not just those who can afford luxury cars,” Fields said.

The CEO is attempting to chart a new path for the 113-year-old automaker as the industry is roiled by changes from the emergence of the sharing economy and advent of the age of the autonomous car. Over the last month, Fields has revealed plans to roll out the robot taxis — with no steering wheel, gas or brake pedals — and to expand into the mobility business by providing bikes and shuttle services in big cities. He has said he is transforming Ford into an automotive and a mobility company to succeed in this new era.

“We believe this next decade is really going to be defined by the automation of the automobile,” Fields told reporters after his speech, adding that he’ll offer a more detailed forecast of the autonomous future at Ford’s investor meeting Wednesday.

The robot cars eventually offered to consumers will be completely reworked in ways that will let their occupants enjoy entertainment or conduct business, he told reporters.

Investors have not reacted favorably to the company’s push for driverless cars and mobility services, and seem more focused on the profit warnings Ford has issued. Ford lowered its 2016 pretax profit forecast last week to $10.2 billion from at least $10.8 billion because of the cost of an expanded recall of faulty door latches. That came after the automaker said in July its profit outlook was “at risk” due to rising costs and slowing sales as the U.S. auto market plateaus. Ford shares were down 12 percent this year through Friday’s close.

(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Keith Naughton