Ford puts the brakes on Chariot ride-share trials

After fewer than five years, Ford’s unsuccessful ride-share service Chariot is closing its doors. The company said Thursday it will cease all operations in the U.S. and the U.K. by February 1.

Chariot was not a direct rival to ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Instead, the company developed transit routes based on user demand. Users could then book a seat in Ford van and share the space with other riders, which was hardly as convenient as an Uber or Lyft. The company started operations in 2014 and was bought by Ford in 2016. The automaker highlighted its ride-sharing efforts via Chariot heavily in 2017.

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According to The Verge, the service simply never took off. Chariot operated in a few U.S. cities, including Austin, Texas, and New York City, but data showed most of the time, the Ford vans drove around without a single passenger. During its best-performing weeks, the vans served about 1,000 riders, or about nine riders per van a day.

Ford scooped up the small service in 2016 to better understand user habits and to glean data useful for future self-driving cars. However, Chariot’s 3 million rides over its five-year run compares to the 4 billion Uber provided in 2017 alone.

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Chariot’s demise could also be part of Ford’s cost-cutting measures announced by CEO Jim Hackett when he took the reins in 2017. The executive slashed development budgets to pour resources into electric cars and trucks. Ford bought Chariot for $65 million in 2016. Today, it employs 625 employees throughout the U.S., but it’s not clear if those workers will have a place once operations cease.

For dedicated riders Chariot will honor any commuter credit balances and plans to refund money to riders.

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