Ford plans to take medical transport venture nationwide

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co plans to expand its GoRide medical transportation service to 40 cities nationwide over the next four years, moving into Ohio and Florida this year and other large states by 2020, the company said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO - The Ford logo is pictured at the Ford Motor Co plant in Genk,Belgium December 17, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has been testing various ways to grow beyond its traditional business of building and selling cars and trucks, aiming to compete with technology industry startups such as Uber Technologies Inc for a share of money spent on transportation as a service.

GoRide uses Ford Transit and Transit Connect vans to give rides to people who need medical care but do not need an ambulance. GoRide last year agreed to provide medical transport for the Beaumont Hospital system of Southeast Michigan. The service has since expanded to Toledo, Ohio.

GoRide now plans to expand to several more Ohio cities by the end of 2019, including Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. In Dayton, GoRide is expanding services in collaboration with the city’s transit system.

The unit plans to launch in Miami and other Florida cities later this year. Next year, GoRide plans to move into North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas and California, GoRide chief executive Minyang Jiang said.

“By the end of the year we expect to have over 130” vans in service, Jiang said. “By the end of next year over 200.”

So far, GoRide is focusing on urban markets, but Jiang said the unit is looking at how to provide medical transport in rural areas that lack public transit.

GoRide competes with medical ride services offered by ride hailing industry leaders Uber and Lyft Inc, as well as smaller regional services.

So far, GoRide is getting capital from Ford as one of the automaker’s mobility ventures. Ford said its mobility services lost $288 million in the first quarter. The medical transport service plans to generate revenue from hospital systems and insurance companies that agree to use its service to get patients to appointments.

Jiang did not give a target for when GoRide could turn a profit, but she said with scale the service should get into the black.

“We’re not going to grow at all costs,” she said.

Reporting by Joe White; Editing by David Gregorio