(Bloomberg) — Ford Motor Co. and security specialist ADT Inc. are jointly investing $105 million in a new venture that outfits vehicles with high-tech security systems to help reduce burglary and theft.
The venture known as Canopy will launch the service in the U.S. and U.K. next year for commercial trucks and vans, with a plan to provide it to individual consumers down the road, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. It uses sensors, cameras, human monitors and artificial intelligence that can distinguish a bird from a burglar.
The effort is part of Ford Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley’s push to provide services to car buyers, which he sees as a $20 billion market that provides a continuous revenue stream that will pull Ford out of boom-and-bust car cycle its been in for 118 years. Canopy grew out of Ford X, the automaker’s new-business incubator modeled on Alphabet Inc.’s X Development unit, known as the “moonshot factory.”
Ford is providing 60% of the financing, while ADT provides 40%. They say they see big potential in the relatively untapped business of car security. The companies cited FBI data showing $7.4 billion in work equipment was stolen from vehicles in the U.S. in 2020.
“Business owners store upwards of $50,000 of gear in the cargo beds of their trucks and theft has been on the rise during the pandemic,” Elliot Cohen, ADT’s chief business development officer, said in an interview. “We’re excited to get together to really try to solve what’s an age-old problem.”
The companies declined to reveal pricing on the subscription service, which they say is unique because it utilizes ADT’s human monitors from its home security business, who currently handle 15 million alarms a year. Those monitors can alert vehicle owners or police to prevent or report a theft.
Initially, Canopy will provide customers with cameras trained on truck beds and cargo areas of vans, sensors and AI technology, which can be monitored on a smartphone app. Eventually, the company’s technology will integrate with cameras, sensors and GPS already on vehicles.
The service will start on Ford’s F-150 pickup truck, including the electric Lightning model debuting this spring, and its Transit van, including its battery-powered version. The venture eventually plans to offer the service to owners of other automakers’ vehicles.
“There’s already 100 million-plus vans and trucks on the road today,” Christian Moran, Canopy’s interim CEO, said in an interview. “We believe that there’s a ton of demand.”
The company will be based in Detroit and London, with plans to hire 250 workers over the next two years, Moran said. He declined to say whether the JV partners plan to eventually spin off Canopy in a public stock offering.
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