Ford’s vision is to be more than just an auto company. We chat with Dianne Craig, Ford Canada CEO and President, about the future of mobility, upcoming tech – and of course, autonomous cars.

As rapidly improving technology continues to affect the way people live at a breakneck speed, automakers are trying to keep up with the transition by approaching business a little bit differently. TractionLife recently sat down with Dianne Craig, president and CEO of Ford Canada, at the Vancouver International Auto Show to talk about some of these changes.

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Can you talk a bit about Ford’s evolution towards mobility?

We’re advancing our vision to be more than just an auto company, but also a mobility company. First and foremost, though, our auto business is always going to be focused on design, manufacturing, marketing, sales, servicing and financing these beautiful vehicles that you see here today.

But we’re seeing these emerging trends at a pace that certainly I haven’t seen in my term as the head of Ford [Canada], and so it’s something we really have to pay attention to and figure out how can we add value for consumers given how they shop, buy, own and how they experience the vehicle? And how we can be part of that relationship? So that’s part of our whole shift towards the mobility world. It’s about how we can be better connected with these customers inside and outside of the vehicles.

What are some of the big changes you’ve seen in the industry the last few years?

Autonomous vehicles — nobody was talking about five years ago. When you think about car sharing and what that looks like for the future, I mean that’s still a relatively new emerging trend. Bill Ford, our chairman, has always been a strong environmentalist number one but certainly he’s been talking about mobility for sometime. In 2012 I think he did a Ted Talk about mobility and having to deal with congestion. The middle class population is going from 2 billion to 4 billion around the world so these are things that we feel an obligation at Ford to be part of a solution.

There’s been some buzz about the soon-to-be-available FordPass app/service. What exactly is it?

FordPassThere are really four components of it, the first one is being able to provide mobility solutions in a market like Vancouver, such as car sharing and enabling that process through FordPass. It’s the same with parking. We also have what we call guides that are available 24/7. Literally you can hit your FordPass to connect you to a concierge to help you with finding a parking space or car sharing, if you’re not doing it through your FordPass, or anything you might need access to or somewhere you need to get to at Ford.

For the rewards piece of it [exclusive member access merchandise and experiences], we’ve already partnered with McDonald’s and 7-11. You’ve got to pick the brands that are going to work with Canada so we’re not there yet. We’re still looking at what’s going to be meaningful for Canadians as FordPass is a global app. The final piece, which I’m really excited about, is the Ford Hubs where you can come experience our innovations. There’s no selling, no transactions, it’s simply a place for you to come experience Ford. The first one is going to open up in New York in the World Trade Centre and then we’re going to find more cities over the next 24 months.

Benjamin Yong is a freelance writer and member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You can find his stories on this site and in other publications including RPM Canada, Westworld BC, CAA Magazine and Darpan Magazine.