Ford axes its Chariot shuttle, proves mobility is hard

Ford axes its Chariot shuttle, proves mobility is hard

On Thursday, five years after launching and two and half years after being acquired by Ford for a reported $65 million, the app-based shuttle service announced it is rolling to a permanent stop. Transportation technology companies have never been sexier than in the past decade, but this stumble is a potent reminder that creating a profitable transportation business can be far harder than it seems.

Key findings

In dense cities, the transportation business is competitive: Riders might choose to use public transit, ride-hail, or even the bike- and scooter-share networks that now blanket so many city sidewalks.

In less dense places, the transportation business is pricey: Dispatching vehicles to retrieve far-flung passengers takes time and plenty of fuel. And transportation firms generally must contend with regulators, another oft-expensive hurdle.

Ford, meanwhile, already has its hands in the latest transit hotness. In November, it acquired startup Spin. The Detroit stalwart has joined the scooter game.

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