Looks like the next move for Ford (NYSE:F) is a drive out to Silicon Valley. The carmaker announced today that it’s going to set up a research and development lab in the land of high tech to, among other things, investigate how to create “uncompromised personal mobility experiences for people around the world.”
Apparently, that means more than just putting more people behind the wheel of a new car. Ford says one of its aims there is to “avoid the creation of global gridlock through a holistic approach to personal transportation.”
Fortunately, the automaker also said CEO Alan Mulally will explain more about what the new lab will be up to when he makes the keynote speech at the opening of the annual International Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 11. Look for efforts that focus on harnessing “the power of seamless connectivity, cloud computing and clean technology.”
The lab likely will open in 2012’s first quarter and both hire new local employees and rotate current Ford workers worldwide through the Silicon Valley lab. Ford notes the new facility won’t replace already existing labs in Dearborn, Mich., Aachen, Germany or its new tech office in Nanjing, China.
Ford is coming off a solid sales year for 2011, surpassing 2 million vehicles sold for the first time since 2007. For December alone, sales rose 10.1%.
Said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of research and innovation: “Now it’s time to prepare for the next 100 years, ushering in a new era of collaboration and finding new partners to help us transform what it means to be an automaker.”
If transformation is the goal, Ford is going to the right place to do it.