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Ford to raise nearly $3 billion in debt to increase tech investments

The company plans to push harder into self-driving cars, ride-sharing, electric cars and mobility.
By Stephen Feller   |   Dec. 5, 2016 at 10:17 PM
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DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Ford Motor Co. announced in a regulatory filing Monday it plans to raise nearly $3 billion to increase its push into areas of transportation beyond simply making and selling vehicles.

Investors picked up more than $2 billion worth of 10- and 30-year bonds Monday, which Ford said it will use to bolster efforts in self-driving cars, electric cars and mobility. In total, the company plans to raise $2.8 billion with the debt issuance.

The company said the new areas of focus are essential as more companies pop up with transportation options, from ride-hailing and car-sharing to basic technologies being introduced for cars and trucks.

"Consistent with our recent investor day presentations, we continue to increase our investments in emerging opportunities, primarily in the areas of electrification, autonomy and mobility," the company said in a statement.

In recent months, Ford has bought a van-shuttle service in San Francisco and a stake in the laser-sensor maker Velodyne, which makes parts for autonomous cars, among other smaller and start-up companies, in an effort to compete with Uber, Google and others looking to create the future of transportation.

Ford announced recently it plans to have around 100,000 autonomous vehicles for ride-sharing services on the road that function without a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals by 2021. In 2016, the company had about 30 of the vehicles in testing on the road and plans to increase that number to 90 test vehicles during 2017.

Ford has also invested $4.5 billion to convert nearly half its vehicle line-up to running on electricity by 2020.

"For us, the world is changing," Mark Fields, CEO at Ford, told Bloomberg. "The transportation that served us well in the last hundred years is not going to serve us very well in the next hundred years. So based on that, that's really forcing, really encouraging us to think differently about the business."

© 2016 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

Amazon planning smart app-based 'Go' stores in U.S. next year

Convenience-type, app-based stores are expected to open next year.
By Doug G. Ware   |   Dec. 5, 2016 at 7:44 PM
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SEATTLE, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- E-commerce giant Amazon.com on Monday unveiled plans to open brick and mortar app-based grocery stores in the United States -- a venture the company hopes will fill an enduring need for millions of Americans.

The company announced Amazon Go, which will feature a no-checkout process called "Just Walk Out Shopping" -- in which shoppers can enter the convenience-style store, take what they need and walk out. Advanced retail technology automatically detects what items were taken and bills customers' Amazon accounts.

"Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning," it states on the Amazon Go website.

"With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)"

Amazon is already testing the concept in Seattle, and if the beta process goes well the company plans to open many Go stores nationwide. The stores will occupy about 1,800 square feet of retail space -- "conveniently compact so busy customers can get in and out fast."

Amazon is attempting to tackle the small store format because it believes online grocery shopping is a niche corner of the market not yet adequately addressed.

"Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?" the website states. "Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go."

The stores will feature ready-made meals and individual grocery items like bread, milk, and many items you would find in a large grocery chain.

Amazon said it expects to make Amazon Go available to the public early next year.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Amazon Go is one of at least three physical store concepts the company is exploring -- including large multifunctional stores with curb pickup service.

In all, more than 2,000 Amazon grocery stores could open in the near future, the report said.

The stores are part of Amazon's Project Como, which the company hopes will capture a larger share of the food market.

Shares of Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) rose by $19.02 (2.57 percent) during trading Monday.

© 2016 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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