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Ford delays robotaxi service launch to 2022, citing pandemic

The Ford Motor Co. announced a delay on Tuesday, to 2022, of its self-driving taxi service, citing a first-quarter revenue loss caused byu the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.
The Ford Motor Co. announced a delay on Tuesday, to 2022, of its self-driving taxi service, citing a first-quarter revenue loss caused byu the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

April 29 (UPI) -- Ford Motor Co. said it will delay the rollout of its self-driving taxi service one year, to 2022, citing economic issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company planned to begin the autonomous driving plan in 2021.

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"Given the challenges of the current business environment, as well as the need to evaluate the long-term impact of COVID-19 on customer behaviors, Ford made the decision to shift the launch of its self-driving services to 2022," it said in a statement Tuesday.

The company reported a loss of $2 billion in the first quarter of 2020, adding that it requires time to research "changes in customer behaviors" because of the pandemic.

Ford prepared to launch the service after testing self-driving vehicles in Florida, Texas and Washington, D.C. In 2019 it extended an alliance with Volkswagen to include the building of electric and self-driving vehicles.

The pandemic has interrupted plans in the autonomous vehicle industry.

Ford also announced the cancellation Tuesday of an SUV project by its Lincoln subsidiary, based on the Rivian electric-powered truck, although its union with Volkswagen to build vehicles on Volkswagen electric car platforms continues.

Startup company Zoox reduced the number of its employees, while Nuro and EasyMile are partnering with urban healthcare companies to deliver medical supplies. Ride-sharing company Uber suspended its customer option to share rides with other users in March, to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

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