Good Mobility? Ford Motor Company is in the Driver’s Seat

When the Ford Motor Company was founded on June 16, 1903, the world population was 80,632,000. Drivers had nothing but time and open dirt roads to explore their new Ford Model A. Their biggest challenge back then was sharing the road with those pesky, antiquated horses.

That was more than a century ago.

Today, the world population is a staggering 7.5 billion – and growing. This means more people in more cars, all trying to get somewhere – and fast. People spend hours stuck in traffic, exploring different apps on their phones to find quicker routes in hopes of bypassing congested roads. At the local level, getting around in cities has become an exercise in strategic thinking, time management and Zen. At the global level, the growing challenge of climate change reminds us that this situation is simply not sustainable. There has to be a better way.

The Ford Motor Company agrees – and has emerged as a global leader in coming up with solutions to today’s biggest mobility challenges.

“We’re seeing a lot of opportunity with future mobility in face of urbanization, congestion, air quality, safety,” said Carrie Majeske, Associate Director of Global Sustainability Integration for Ford Motor Company. “How will people get around in a way that’s most convenient, and least environmentally impactful? Are there better ways that are safer, easier, and more fun? These are questions we’re asking.”

Carrie has been with Ford since 1984, and on the sustainability team since 2007, leading development of product sustainability strategies for CO2 emissions, fuel economy, sustainable materials, and life cycle assessment. “With the addition of the Ford Smart Mobility LLC to our strong line-up of cars and trucks, we’re making a lot of inroads into new mobility solutions, moving from just selling vehicles to also developing new mobility options,” she said.

Ford Mobility LLC is a new subsidiary of Ford Motor Company announced on March 11, 2016, which was formed to “design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services.” It was in 2015 when Ford president and CEO, Mark Fields, first announced that the automaker was investing in 25 mobility experiments around the globe, mostly in large cities. These experiments address four global megatrends: explosive population growth, an expanding middle class, air quality and public health concerns, and changing customer attitudes and priorities – all of which are challenging today’s transportation model and limiting personal mobility, particularly in urban areas. Insights gained from these experiments will shape Ford’s future investments.

The ambitious plan was unheard of at the time and paved the way for a new area of exploration for automakers. In fact, Forbes reports that since Fields’ announcement, “mobility” has become the “buzzword of an auto industry in transition from selling sheet metal to marketing all means of personal transportation.”

Carrie says the company plans to showcase this work at SB’17 Detroit, along with other initiatives, such as the “Go Detroit Challenge”, an innovation challenge designed to stimulate new ideas and to find ways to better connect Detroit communities through innovative mobility solutions. The challenge focused on finding new mobility innovations that could enable all Detroiters to travel more easily, safely and reliably.

“The Go Detroit challenge is centered on community, for people in the neighborhood to influence the vision for future mobility around the city,” said Carrie. “We are in our research labs and business suits every day – but we need to get out there with people who are having problems getting around. This is the only way we can solve the challenges they face. The SB’17 Detroit event is great because there are multiple overlapping themes with our current and future business models.” Among these themes are “Good Mobility” – a pavilion Ford will be hosting, and “Good Cities”.

In addition to letting the Sustainable Brands community in on Ford’s mobility and sustainability efforts, Carrie says the company will be able to include more if its employees in the event, being located in its own backyard. This, she says, will enable our experts to share their experiences with others, and hear first-hand how other companies are learning and growing on their sustainability journeys.

“This conference also ties in with Integrated Sustainability at Ford” she said. “We are in the process of reaching out to skill teams such as Product Development, IT, HR, etc. and asking them to engage in sustainability.” This effort, she says, starts with the process of asking employees a simple question: “What do you do in your daily jobs, to make people’s lives and the environment better?”

“This question draws more people into the sustainability space,” she said. “As a practitioner, I experienced sustainability reporting, transparency and stakeholder engagement, but not everyone is exposed to that. This is a chance for them to participate in the conversation. We’re trying to make sustainability mainstream at Ford and helping employees realize that they’ve already been working on it in many different ways.”

Carrie will be speaking on Growing Sustainability Programs: Getting Unstuck When Progress Stalls and Turning Naysayers into Advocates at SB’17 Detroit on May 22, 2017. Join her and connect with 2,000+ brand and sustainability leaders in Detroit for a collective conversation about how brands can tap environmental and social purpose to drive innovation and deliver new business and brand value.

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