Take a page from Ford’s playbook

You can run from change or run with it.

Like the boating industry, the auto industry has been dealing with demographic changes, although it has weathered the storm better than boating. One of the biggest challenges has been that, thus far, Millennials are much less inclined to buy cars than earlier generations. They’ve been choosing to live in more urban areas, relying on alternate forms of transportation, whether it be mass transit, bikes or ride-sharing services like Uber.

And that’s where the latest innovation from Ford comes in. Sure, they want to keep making cars, but they’re also trying to grab a share of these alternatives, as the Washington Post reports:

So what do you do if your century-old business model relies on making and selling vehicles? Well, this: Ford is trying to develop its own Uber-like “ride-sharing” app with a twist that only an automaker can bring to this rapidly shifting market — Ford is also working on a vehicle to go with it. Not a theoretical autonomous car, as Uber has fantasized (and begun researching with Carnegie Mellon). But a more achievable, legal-today ride-sharing shuttle that could be tested on the streets of London later this year. … 

The concept, which Ford is calling a “dynamic social shuttle,” is one of two-dozen experiments the company announced last month, as it tries to pivot away from a focus on solely manufacturing vehicles to thinking more broadly about “mobility.”

Yes, Ford is going to keep making cars, but it’s also working to build its brand in other ways. We’ve already seen some companies in our industry do this, from Brunswick partnering with peer-to-peer boat rental company Boatbound to Nautique and MasterCraft investing in cable parks. It’s the smart way to stay ahead of a changing market.

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