On Wednesday, Ford Motor said it would collaborate with ride-hailing startup Lyft to deploy self-driving Ford vehicles on the ride service’s network in big numbers by 2021.
The two teams will start working together in designing software that will allow Ford vehicles to communicate with the smartphone apps of Lyft.
The self-driving test cars for Ford will be in connection with the Lyft network, but to start, customers cannot used them, said the Ford vice president of electrification and autonomous vehicles Sherif Marakby. Ford will put vehicles that are human driven on the ride-hailing service’s network.
Marakby did not indicate when the two companies expect they can offer the first self-driving vehicle rides.
He added that prototypes are not being built for just the sake of building them, adding the Ford’s intentions are to ultimately put thousands of the self-driving cars into use.
Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett will meet with investors next week to outline the automaker’s strategy for increasing profitability.
Shares at Ford have fallen 1.65% in 2017, while its rival General Motors’ shares have increased by 15.5% and shares of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have moved up 71%.
Hackett is planning to compete for more revenue through mobility services that includes car sharing and well as ride-hailing, which will be an area of focus for Ford investors. The new partnership with Lyft is a piece of that puzzle.
Ford has also been testing new delivery services using vehicles that are self-driving and a shuttle service using vans. The autonomous vehicles Ford will be deploying through Lyft are going to use software that Argo AI developed. Ford will invest more than $1 billion in Argo over the upcoming five years.
Ford said it would be investing $700 million for a factory to give it the capacity to build both self-driving and electric vehicles.
Lyft said it would offer companies an open platform to deploy autonomous vehicles across its network, and has entered into partnerships with Drive.ai a startup specializing in self-driving vehicle technology and Waymo the self-driving arm of Alphabet, Inc.
GM currently holds a stake of 9% in Lyft that it acquired with an investment of $500 million in January of 2016.
GM is assembling assets necessary for launching its own ride-sharing and hailing services using a lineup of self-driving vehicles. Building car-sharing unit Maven and preparing the launch of mass production of its Chevrolet Bolt its autonomous electric car at a suburban Detroit factory.