Ford invests $182m in cloud software to transform from auto to mobile

The automaker hopes the investment will act as a springboard into the mobile space.

Ford has announced the investment of $182.2 million in Pivotal, a cloud-based software company as part of the automaker's expansion into the mobile space.

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On Thursday, the automaker said the investment into San Francisco-based Pivotal will help solidify Ford's plans to not only be known as a vehicle manufacturer, but to also be considered a strong player in mobility.

While Ford Smart Mobility will focus on connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, data and analytics, the company still continues to focus on the core design, manufacture and servicing elements of the business.

The companies say the cash injection will drive the transition from auto-manufacture to manufacture and mobile, but Pivotal will also work with Ford to expand software use, analytics and cloud technology throughout Ford's Product Development and IT teams. New Ford Smart Mobility labs are also on the table.

As part of the deal, Ford chief information officer Marcy Klevorn will join the board of directors at Pivotal.

"Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise to deliver outstanding customer experiences," said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. "Our investment in Pivotal will help strengthen our ability to deliver these customer experiences at the speed of Silicon Valley."

Ford recently partnered with Pivotal in the creation of FordPass, which enhances connected car capabilities such as remote unlocking through mobile devices, finding local parking spots and car sharing networks. The Dearborn, Michigan-based firm says that Pivotal's technology will be implemented further into the platform for use on new projects, including ride-hailing -- a potential future rival to companies such as Uber.

This week, Pivotal raised $253 million in a fresh funding round with partners including Ford, Microsoft, GE and VMWare.

If Ford is going to make a successful transition, investment is key. Considering Pivotal's list of high-profile supporters, it may be a sure bet -- but as quickly as the market for connected devices and smart vehicles is evolving, the future is anyone's bet.

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