Ford Motor Company confirm plans that their ride-sharing service, “Chariot”, will be heading to the streets of London once their application has been accepted.
The ride-sharing service start-up was bought by Ford in September 2016 for an estimated £50m, with versions of the service already operating in 4 US cities including Austin, Seattle, New York and San Francisco who’s services were briefly suspended by California regulators for supposed inspection failures.
The rapid expansion of tech-driven private commuter services has sparked unease, in case on-demand travel tempts passengers away from public transport. Total passenger journeys on London’s public transport have been flat since 2014/15, hovering around 4bn, after several years of strong growth, according to TfL data.
However, Chariot has insisted that the service it plans to offer in the UK will be complementary to the existing public transport system, should TfL grant its licence application.
“Chariot operates in four markets: San Francisco, New York, Austin and Seattle in the US,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to explore additional markets as part of our expansion plans. We have applied for the relevant licences to operate a commuter microtransit service in London that would complement the existing public transport system. We are now awaiting a response from TfL.”
Chariot, founded three years ago in San Francisco by entrepreneur Ali Vahabzadeh, was the first acquisition made by Ford’s Smart Mobility division, which is focused on future transportation systems such as ride-sharing and self-driving cars.
Ford also opened a Smart Mobility Office in London this summer, which it hopes to make its European centre for future mobility solutions. Ford said that the London office would hire 40 researchers and allow the company to be nearer to some of its trials, including the launch of a project involving a plug-in hybrid Transit van fleet later this year.
Read more about the Ford Transit plug-in hybrid trial here.