In August 2016, Mark Fields, Ford’s (F) former CEO, revealed that by 2021 the company would begin mass-producing autonomous vehicles for ride-sharing services. Fields promised that these SAE level 4-capable autonomous vehicles wouldn’t have a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals. The company promised to deliver these highly automated vehicles in a very short period. SAE level 4 vehicles are in the “high automation” category but not in the “full automation” category.
However, Fields was replaced by Jim Hackett in May 2017 as Ford’s CEO. Will the company stick to its plan to deliver autonomous vehicles by 2021?
Will Hackett stick with this deadline?
Hackett served as the head of Ford’s Smart Mobility division under Mark Fields’ leadership before replacing him as CEO. The Smart Mobility segment consists of the company’s emerging business areas including autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, and personal mobility. Thus, Hackett is well aware of the innovative technological advancements the auto industry is seeing at the moment.
In a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Hackett said that autonomous vehicles “will be a progressive thing, just like computing.” While commenting on Ford’s 2021 deadline, he also suggested that fully autonomous vehicles that can handle all driving conditions in any type of weather could take longer to hit the roads than 2021.
There has been no official announcement yet from Ford about delaying its 2021 mass-production of level-4 autonomous vehicles. However, it would be a herculean task for the company to deliver fully autonomous vehicles by 2021.