May 23, 2016 / 4:31 PM / a year ago

Ford seeks partnerships as it looks beyond car-making

3 Min Read

Ford Motor Executive Chairman Bill Ford addresses assembly workers during a celebration of production of the Shelby GT350R Mustang vehicle at the Ford Motor Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, August 20, 2015.Rebecca Cook

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) Chairman Bill Ford said on Monday the automaker would look for more partnerships with other companies as it moves to expand beyond manufacturing and selling cars and trucks.

"You’ll see a lot of partnerships, a lot more than you used to see in the auto industry," Ford told reporters after addressing a conference on entrepreneurship in Detroit.

Ford did not disclose any new deals and said Ford's management is still working to define its strategy for self-driving cars, connecting vehicles to the internet and developing new transportation services such as ride sharing.

"You'll hear more from us as this year goes on," the chairman said, adding the company would consider acquisitions "if we thought that was the right way to go."

Some of Ford's rivals, notably General Motors Co (GM.N), are taking a more aggressive approach. GM earlier this year invested $500 million in ride-hailing service Lyft, and this month closed the acquisition of self-driving vehicle technology startup Cruise Automation. GM has outlined a plan to develop autonomous electric vehicles for use by Lyft.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV this month said it would work with internet search leader Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google self-driving cars unit to integrate Google's autopilot technology into 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

Asked about Google, Ford said, "Anything’s possible with anybody. We have a good relationship with Google" but no alliance to disclose.

The company is investing heavily in self-driving vehicle technology, electric cars and other initiatives, he said. "We’re fully competitive," he said. "We’re not out talking about it all the time."

Ford earlier this year established a new business unit, Ford Smart Mobility LLC, as part of its effort to build new transportation-related services and new alliances, while the company continues to generate profits from its traditional business of building cars and trucks. Ford Smart Mobility is led by former Steelcase Inc Chief Executive James Hackett.

Bill Ford has for years pushed executives at the automaker founded by his great-grandfather, Henry Ford, to prepare for a world in which car sales might be limited by congestion or environmental regulations. Now, Ford said, the challenge is to define a strategy that is "uniquely ours."

"You can’t be all things to all people and you shouldn’t be," Ford said.

Reporting by Joseph White; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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