Ford is pushing hard to break down any technological barriers that currently exist within the automotive space. In an effort to push their plans forward – and create an automotive industry that is truly ready to become one with the digital age – they have opened their first research center in the heart of Silicon Valley. The move, of opening a research facility in Palo Alto, California is one that isn’t just somewhat unexpected, but inexplicably bold compared to what other automotive companies are doing. Where several, like Chrysler and General Motors are working to ensure that they are kept out of the spotlight for more negative reasons – look at the nearly 30 million vehicles recalled in the last year and a half built by GM – Ford is pushing the boundaries of technology as it pertains to their automotive lineup.
CEO Mark Fields said “Innovation for us is very meaningful because it’s in our DNA, in the legacy of Henry Ford. Innovation is why a lot of us joined the company in the first place.” He went on to say at the press event, which celebrated the opening of the facility that “We want to be viewed as part of the ecosystem in Silicon Valley. The research and Innovation Center is another proof point of what we’re doing and in a year, we will be one of the largest, dedicated automotive research teams here in the valley.”
All of that came off as big talk from a company that has seen its share of struggles over the last decade. However, those struggles seem to be largely behind the company as they are pushing forward with some of the most-aggressive planning and execution of any automotive company in the world. This research facility though isn’t an entirely new concept. The company already has two – one located in Michigan, while another is located in Germany. However, this particular center in Palo Alto will be focusing on the points where computer technology and the automotive space meet – instead of strictly tending to the automotive challenges of the world.
Fields went on to point out that he doesn’t necessarily see Ford as “an automotive company.” He went on to note that he also considers Ford “a mobility company,” as well. However, Ford isn’t the only automotive company that is trying to break ground on some really interesting projects here in the United States. Specifically, Tesla has had some really aggressive plans – which have met heavy criticism and force from politicians in Texas – around opening a dealership in the state. Some have argued though, with Elon Musk floating the idea of a Hyperloop test track in Texas, that it could go a long way to pushing his Tesla plans forward in the state.