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CES 2015: Ford Chief Predicts Self-Driving Vehicles on Roads in 2020

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Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford Motor Co., said that he is focusing the company to become the first vehicle manufacturer to produce self-driving cars for the mass market, instead of being the first company to develop one.

Fields, who was a keynote speaker at the CES 2015 event in Las Vegas, discussed how Ford is looking to become a company focused on mobility to provide solutions to consumers, as opposed to simply manufacturing cars.

"We believe in the industry that there will be a fully autonomous vehicle, probably within the next five years," Fields said to The Wall Street Journal.

Fields added that once Ford releases a self-driving car, it will be unlike luxury brands that are simply looking to develop one. Ford wishes to release an autonomous vehicle that will be affordable and accessible to all consumers.

The earliest prototypes that are being released for self-driving vehicles are coming from luxury car companies such as Daimler, which unveiled its F015 Luxury in Motion Mercedes Benz concept car at the CES. Electric car company Tesla Motors previously claimed that it will be the first company to release a driverless car to the public, but has not provided details on its plans.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk previously expressed his similar expectations with Fields that there will be self-driving cars in five years, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last September.

However, the self-driving cars that luxury car companies are developing will likely bear prices near those of luxury vehicles. Ford is looking to sell driverless cars that consumers can afford.

Ford is also the first mass manufacturer of vehicles that offered safety technology such as systems for warning on switching lanes and possible collisions in its cars. The technology in self-driving cars, however, is much more expensive compared to these systems, as components include radar equipment and powerful computer processors.

Fields said that Ford is currently exploring alternative business models to prevent disruptions to its plans, adding that the company is working on 25 varying "experiments." These experiments include services to detect open parking spaces through a driver's mobile phone, companies for sharing and swapping cars, and map services for unpaved roads.

According to Fields, the company has been studying how to use innovation to improve mobility as a solution to important congestion and transportation issues worldwide, adding that Ford wants to make a better world and run a better business.

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