Ford will delay plans to launch an autonomous vehicle service from 2021 to 2022, the automaker revealed in its quarterly earnings released on Tuesday. The move is prompted by the need to evaluate the long-term impact of COVID-19 on customer behaviors, according to the earnings report.
While the service will be delayed, the effects of the pandemic could play in autonomy’s favor:
On the call, Ford COO Jim Farley said that “zero touch” could be an integral part of life going forward, “perhaps spurring on even more interest in adoption of autonomy, especially goods delivery, and micro mobility.”
Ford had invested $1 billion in Argo AI, developers of self-driving systems, and partnered with Argo and Volkswagen last year to develop autonomous technology in the U.S. and Europe.
Taking the time to research changes in customer behaviors provides Ford with an opportunity to evaluate and potentially change our go-to-market strategy to meet new consumer demands. As part of this evaluation, we also want to make sure the customer experience we are building offers people peace of mind knowing they, or their packages, are in a safe and protected environment inside our vehicles.
During the call, Ford COO Jim Farley during the company’s earnings call Tuesday.