Ford has a new space within the Oculus shopping center at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York, but don’t expect to find its latest models or salesmen asking what they have to do to get you into a car today.
Instead, Ford has launched what it calls an interactive brand experience studio focused on the future of urban transportation.
Ford said the studio, FordHub, is designed to show consumers how the brand is changing the way the world moves. It also wants to inspire visitors – whether they own a Ford or not – to think about how transportation should change, by encouraging imagination and dialogue.
“Our first FordHub is a place designed to spark questions and curiosity,” said Elena Ford, Ford’s vice president of global dealer and consumer experience, in a statement. “This isn’t a store or a dealer – it’s a place for participation and creativity. We want people to have fun while engaging in conversation about the future of transportation.”
Ford said it is working with cities around the world to address mobility challenges and FordHub allows consumers in New York to get a glimpse of its vision.
Installations include a world map to see how near-term advancements in mobility – including autonomous and electric vehicles, ride-sharing, ride-hailing and connected vehicles – will play a role in transportation. It also features a mobility map that tracks movement in New York – with a dashboard of real-time traffic for commuters, including trains, ferries and alerts.
Additional FordHub experiences include the Last Mile Challenge, in which consumers stand on so-called wobbleboards and race each other in a video game on autonomous cars and e-bikes, earning tokens for their mobility decisions. Mustang Over Manhattan is a VR experience in which consumers reassemble a Ford Mustang atop the Empire State Building, which the brand actually did twice upon the Mustang’s debut and for its 50th anniversary. In addition, consumers can take selfies to see what they look like to autonomous vehicles and watch a light-up toy car art installation in which light patterns change as visitors move.
Further, visitors can save digital souvenirs from these experiences on a HubCard they pick up upon arrival.
Ford said it will also collaborate with "communities, thought leaders, artists and others" to introduce new interactive programs to FordHub over time.
Ford said FordHub allows it to expand its efforts to connect with consumers.
“Ford was founded on the promise of providing affordable transportation solutions to millions of customers and this commitment still drives us today,” added Stephen Odell, executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service, in the release. “As we expand our business to be both an auto and mobility company, we’re using new experiences like FordHub and our first Super Bowl ad that talks about the future to explain what we mean when we say, ‘We Go Further so you can.’”
A rep for visual effects company Framestore, which helped Ford execute the space, said the brand is looking at San Francisco for its next FordHub.
Ford is also kicking off its Mobilize New York Challenge, which asks consumers to submit proposals to solve the city’s transportation challenges.