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Ford leader, in Kansas City, discusses the future of transportation

Saying the mobility revolution has already began, Ford Motor Co. executive chairman Bill Ford said the upcoming changes will be as dramatic as the switch from horses to automobiles. Ford spoke Wednesday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts about the future of transportation.
Saying the mobility revolution has already began, Ford Motor Co. executive chairman Bill Ford said the upcoming changes will be as dramatic as the switch from horses to automobiles. Ford spoke Wednesday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts about the future of transportation. bcronkleton@kcstar.com

The way people and things move around will change significantly the next few years, and that change will be as dramatic as the switch from horses to automobiles, Ford Motor Co. executive chairman Bill Ford said Wednesday.

“The mobility revolution is going to affect all of us personally and many of us professionally,” said Ford, who was in Kansas City on Wednesday to speak at Kinetic, a series of forums hosted by the Mid-America Regional Council that focus on the future of transportation.

“It won’t happen by itself,” he said. “It is up to us to make it happen and to make sure the changes are for the better.”

Ford said the auto industry will see more degrees of change in the next 10 years than in the prior 100.

“In the next few years, smart cars will be doing things you can hardly imagine today,” he said.

Along with the smarter cars, new forms of ownership and usage are emerging — car sharing, ride sharing, ride hailing and more, Ford said. Cities and local governments are also using technology to optimize the various forms of transportation their systems offer.

“As our industry enters this new era of connected and smart mobility, Ford Motor Co. is committed to making people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves,” he said. “We are rapidly becoming both an auto company and a mobility company.”

Ford said one example of that change is the pilot program the company is entering into with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Bridj of Boston. Ford will provide its popular Transit passenger vans for the project, which will bring a new on-demand shuttle service to parts of the Kansas City area in the coming weeks.

As vehicles get smarter and more integrated in the transportation system, they will do more for us, including things that haven’t been thought of yet, Ford said.

“The mobility revolution is here,” Ford said. “Not in a distant city in a faraway future, but right here, right now in Kansas City.”

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb

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