Ford invests $180m in Pivotal to bolster software capabilities

Ford carUS automotive giant Ford has invested $182.2m in cloud software company Pivotal, in a continued effort to diversify its business offerings.

The company has stated it is ‘aggressively’ pursuing emerging technologies as it aims to become a company known as much for mobility as it does for cars and SUV’s. Ford’s ambitions are targeted towards becoming a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

“Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise to deliver outstanding customer experiences,” said Mark Fields, Ford CEO. “Our investment in Pivotal will help strengthen our ability to deliver these customer experiences at the speed of Silicon Valley, including continually expanding FordPass – our digital, physical and personal mobility experience platform.”

The relationship itself dates back to February of this year, as the team announced a new partnership to deliver FordPass, a platform which offers customers remote access to vehicles through a smartphone app, and mobility solutions, such as parking and car sharing. As part of the new relationship, Pivotal’s cloud and analytics capabilities will be incorporated into new projects such as its Dynamic Shuttle service, which offers employees on-demand ride sharing around its Dearborn campus in Michigan. The team have plans to expand the service to new locations and applications, including delivery services and emergency medical transportation, in coming months.

“Today we are at a major inflection point in global business, and Pivotal is at the fulcrum of that change,” said Rob Mee, Pivotal CEO. “We are collaborating with iconic companies like Ford to help transform their businesses with our unique software development methodology and modern cloud platform and analytics tools. We are thrilled to create a deeper partnership with Ford through this investment as we drive its evolution to becoming both an auto and mobility company – reinventing yet again how the world moves.”

Ford already uses Pivotal’s software in its EcoBoost engines, the SYNC 3 connectivity system and driver-assist parking technologies. The company also claims the F-150 model features more than 150 million lines of code, compared to a typical smartphone operating system has approximately 12 million lines, demonstrating the growing trend of software within the automotive industry.

With autonomous vehicles one of the industry’s growing trends, companies such as Google and Microsoft have made healthy investments in recent months, some corners of the industry will be less surprised with Ford’s moves. Customer experience has long played a role within the automotive industry, though the growth and normalization of cloud technologies, combined with increasingly demanding, digitally orientated customers, Ford’s financial moves could demonstrate the beginning of a new trend of investments for car manufacturers.