- Rajendra “Raj” Rao has been named CEO of Ford Smart Mobility LLC. Rao most recently was vice president of digital business model innovation at 3M according to a release by the automaker.
- Ford designed Ford Smart Mobility to run competing with startup companies, and is working with a number of startups including a collaboration with Motivate for Ford GoBike in San Francisco as well as creating a City Solutions team for mobility efforts worldwide. The company also acquired Chariot, an app-based crowd-sourced shuttle company.
- Rao’s role will include leading the growth of the City Solutions business, the Chariot shuttle business and Greenfield Labs, the company’s business model incubator.
Like many traditional companies adjusting to a digital business environment, Ford Smart Mobility is an effort by the longstanding automotive company to expand its digital footprint into a space, mobility, that makes sense within its core competence. By bringing in Rao with a background in digital innovation, including 3M’s Internet of Things projects as well as stints at iGATE Capital and Brunswick, Ford is signaling that its Smart Mobility unit will be operating on its own. Rao will report to Jim Hackett, Ford Smart Mobility LLC chairman rather than a parent company exec.
“Ford Smart Mobility is a significant growth opportunity for Ford,” said Hackett in the release. “Raj has deep experience in digital transformation, new business model cultivation and start-up partnerships. He is the right leader to lead the delivery of mobility services globally and bring to life our vision to change the way the world moves.”
Ford is also working with MIT on public transportation solutions. This month, the MIT campus is supposed to get a ride-sharing service fpr requesting pickups and drop-offs in an electric vehicle small enough to navigate sidewalks.