Ford, struggling with a depressed stock price and facing constant questions about what, exactly, it’s trying to do as a business now, offered up Wednesday a solution that’ll finally convince everyone it’s something more than a car company: the Blue Oval bought some electric scooters.
Ford’s Smart Mobility division said in a blog post Wednesday that it had acquired the startup Spin, which makes some of the dockless, all-electric scooters you’ve maybe seen zipping around town.
Ford portrayed Spin as the responsible operator in a field of e-scooter startups that have shown a penchant for showing up to cities unannounced, and getting extremely annoyed when the cities, quite understandably, don’t respond so well.
“Spin is committed to working hand-in-hand with cities and universities to implement micro-mobility solutions responsibly, safely and sustainably as they expand their operations,” Sunny Madra, president of Ford X, said in the blog post. “They do not launch without permission; they share usage data with cities; and they work with local officials and university campuses to design educational tools around parking and riding rules.”
Like its counterparts, Spin offers its scooters at a flat fee of $1, with an additional 15 cents tacked on per minute they’re in use. Madra notes that Spin currently operates in 13 cities and campuses across the U.S. and fits squarely into Ford’s plan for introducing other mobility-type options like self-driving taxis in a very limited space.
But as others have noted, Spin has struggled to raise gobs of cash like its competitors, and that likely played a part in finding Ford—struggling to position itself as being prepared for, I guess, anything right now, with even Elon Musk saying it may not survive the next recession—as a suitor.
As part of the announcement, Ford says that Spin has launched in a new city: Detroit, where the automaker just secured $104 million in tax breaks to rehab a train station right outside of the city’s downtown. Sweet deal for Detroit.