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Ford is tackling a big problem in cities by buying Chariot

Ford Motor announced on Friday it is acquiring shuttle service Chariot as the auto giant seeks to cater to customers who may not even own a car.

The acquisition is an opportunity for Ford to gain exposure to a group of consumers who may not be interested in owning a car, Ford CEO Mark Fields said in an interview on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

"This is about not going from an old business to a new business. It's just expanding our business and filling an unmet need, particularly for cities who want to solve some of their congestion and mobility issues," Fields said on Friday.

Chariot crowdsources its routes as well as its pickup and drop-off locations. The mobile app lets users reserve seats, buy passes and check estimated time of arrivals.

As part of its initiative to alleviate congestion in major global cities, Ford said it will also collaborate with bike-sharing provider Motivate.

Chariot & Ford GoBike
Source: Ford
Chariot & Ford GoBike

Ford said in a statement that Chariot is expected to expand into five additional markets within the next 18 months.

The service currently operates more than 100 Ford Transit shuttles on 28 routes in the San Francisco Bay Area, boasting a typical off-peak fare of $3.80 or $5 for a peak-time ride.

Fields explained that for investors, the "upside opportunities" in emerging transportation services are "quite compelling."

The CEO said that while Ford's core business still has growth potential, especially overseas, mobility services like Chariot could decrease car usage in major urban areas.

"That's why we're embracing the sharing and the services part of our business, because we think it will allow us to grow and compensate for any kind of detriment we see in the actual number of vehicles in downtown areas," Fields said.

He also said that the acquisition is "completely aligned with what I call our 'why' of our company, which is all about making people's lives better and changing the way the world moves."