DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) will begin testing its latest self-driving vehicle technology next year in at least one city but has not changed its plan to begin commercial production until 2021, the company said.FILE PHOTO: An airplane flies above a Ford logo in Colma, California, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
The automaker said on Thursday that it would test self-driving prototypes in various pilot programs with partners such as Lyft, the ride services company in which rival General Motors Co (GM.N) owns a minority stake, and Domino’s Pizza Inc (DPZ.N). However, Ford has still not decided whether to operate its own on-demand transportation service.
In a blog post, Jim Farley, president of global markets, said Ford also would test new business models that involve its self-driving vehicles, including the movement of people and goods.
GM unveiled plans last week to introduce its own on-demand ride-sharing service in several U.S. cities in 2019, using self-driving versions of the battery-powered Chevrolet Bolt.
Ford is shifting production of a future battery electric vehicle to Mexico to free up capacity at its Flat Rock, Michigan, plant to build the self-driving vehicles in 2021, according to spokesman Alan Hall.
The electric vehicle, whose more-advanced battery system will enable a driving range of more than 300 miles, will go into production in 2020 at Ford’s Cuatitlan plant, which suppliers say will also build a new hybrid crossover vehicle around the same time.
At the Flat Rock plant, Ford is boosting investment to $900 million from $700 million and adding 850 jobs.
Both the 2020 electric and the 2021 self-driving vehicles will draw on the next-generation Ford Focus for some of their underbody structure and components while using different propulsion systems.
Unlike the full electric vehicle from Cuatitlan, the self-driving vehicle from Flat Rock will use a hybrid system with a gasoline engine and an electric motor, Hall said.