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Ford to invest $182m in PaaS firm Pivotal to support connected car push

Ford steps up involvement with Pivotal, and sets out plans to expand the use of Pivotal’s software development kit across its IT and product development teams

Ford has pledged to invest $182.2m in platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider Pivotal, as the motor manufacturer strives to ramp up its connected car software development efforts.

The investment will result in Ford CIO Marcy Klevorn joining Pivotal’s board of directors, and comes at a time when the car maker is looking to position itself as a major player in the connected and autonomous vehicles space.

A core component of this is the FordPass customer service platform, which was launched by the firm in April 2016 and is billed by Ford as a way of fostering closer ties between the brand and its customers.

As such, the platform is designed to provide users with remote access to their vehicles and smartphone apps that allow them to reserve and pay for parking before they start their car journey, or partner with another passenger for car sharing purposes.

There is also a loyalty scheme component to the platform that seeks to reward users for using the services it provides, and for shopping at convenience stores and restaurants, such as McDonalds.

The FordPass platform was jointly developed by Pivotal and Ford, who jointly announced a three-year software development partnership in December 2015.

On the back of its multi-million dollar investment in Pivotal, Ford said it plans to roll-out the PaaS firm’s software development methodologies and technologies to its wider IT, product development and advanced engineering teams.

Read more about Ford’s connected car plans

“Investing in Pivotal builds on our current strengths in software development,” said Ford CIO Klevorn “We plan to quickly add state-of-the-art software engineering capabilities across the Ford enterprise.”

Furthermore, the firms plan to jointly open software labs in the US and Europe, staffed by software engineers, architects and developers, to equip Ford with the capabilities needed to respond to the growing use of software in modern car design.

To emphasise this point, Ford cited the design of its F-150 pickup truck, which features software comprised of 150 million lines of code, whereas a typical smartphone operating system is built using around 12 million lines.

Rob Mee, CEO of Pivotal, said the firm – which was spun out of storage giant EMC in 2012 – is involved in a number of similar projects, as companies in all industries are looking at how software can give their operations a competitive edge.

“We are collaborating with iconic companies such as Ford to help transform their businesses with our unique software development methodology and modern cloud platform and analytics tools,” he said.

“We are thrilled to create a deeper partnership with Ford through this investment as we drive its evolution to becoming both an auto and mobility company – reinventing yet again how the world moves.”

Read more on Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

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I'm surprised Ford is making such a timid investment. The Connected Car (and it's sibling, The Autonomous Car) are high in everyone's view of the future. Companies that want a piece of that will have to take a far more aggressive approach.
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