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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.
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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