We’re sorry to say that your weirdly specific dream of being chauffeured around in a driverless Ford Fusion is now on hold.
If you were really looking forward to Ford’s rollout of an autonomous “robotaxi” fleet in 2021 — that’s a really specific kink, by the way — then I have some lamentable news for you, pal. It’s getting pushed back by a year.
Why? Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, of course. Ford issued a statement (PDF) on Tuesday outlining the reasons for its decision to push the service back to 2022:
Given the challenges of the current business environment, as well as the need to evaluate the long-term impact of COVID-19 on customer behaviors, Ford made the decision to shift the launch of its self-driving services to 2022. Understanding customer behavior is a critically important part of building a new mobility service built around trust and making people’s lives easier.
If that reads as code for “probably not the best time to ask people to get into random and mostly unsupervised automobiles,” then you’re likely not far from the truth. Look at the trouble that Lyft and Uber are facing during the pandemic, and you’ll have some idea of what Ford would be up against.
Ford’s representative continues, “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.”
Ford also announced a $2 billion loss for the second quarter, and that its luxury brand Lincoln is canceling a planned Rivian-based SUV. That isn’t to say that Ford’s hanging up its hat entirely, though. It still intends to follow through with the launches of both its first built-to-purpose electric vehicle — the Mustang Mach E — and its reimagined Bronco SUV.
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