With trends showing that less people are interested in owning a vehicle, American automakers are shifting their attention in producing cars designed for the first mile/last mile of a person's travel, usually that distance between a transit station and their workplace or home.
“People really didn’t think of the first mile/last mile issue because the car was the primary way to get around,’’ said Erica Klampfl, the global future mobility manager at Ford Motor Company. “You just drove your car to your destination.’’
In many ways, the industry’s race to solve the last-mile challenge involves the development of self-driving vehicles, an effort involving various carmakers, technology companies and start-up firms.
General Motors and its partner, Lyft, an Uber rival, are about to begin testing a fleet of self-driving cars ferrying passengers short distances in Detroit and other cities. Uber already has similar trials underway in Pittsburgh and has just expanded its tests to San Francisco. Next year, Delphi Automotive expects to have self-driving Audis providing rides to mass transit stations in a section of Singapore.
Ford, meanwhile, has vowed to begin producing a self-driving car, with no steering wheel and no pedals, by 2021. The vehicle would be intended for ride-hailing services in large cities.
If these types of cars and services proliferate, Mr. DeVos at Delphi said, people will have more freedom to not own automobiles.
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