Ford, the nation’s largest automaker, is considering a $50-billion plan to build a fleet of pickups and sedans to be sold in the United States, according to people familiar with the matter.
Ford said in a filing this week that it has been evaluating its options and could be ready to offer a fully automated truck by the end of 2020, the people said.
The company is also considering a truck that will have a fully autonomous driving capability, said the people, who were not authorized to discuss the company’s plans publicly.
Ford is looking to build pickups and SUVs with a range of features to make them appealing to American consumers, and the company has been testing its trucks with self-driving capabilities since the end in 2021.
Ford, whose cars account for about half of the world’s auto sales, has long had an interest in the autonomous vehicles market, but the move into the field has been slow and has been plagued by challenges.
In September, Ford unveiled a new autonomous system for its trucks that will drive in the reverse lane and be able respond to obstacles.
But the company also said the truck would be unable to follow the same route in the left lane that a human driver would be able, and it has said it may also need to add features to the system to help it navigate streets and intersections more efficiently.
Ford has faced questions about whether the autonomous technology would be suitable for commercial use, especially in states that are more expensive to build.
A major challenge will be ensuring that a vehicle will be safe enough to carry passengers and that it will not cause collisions or cause other problems, the company said.
Ford was unable to disclose the total amount of funding for the autonomous system.
A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the filing.
Ford’s pickup trucks are currently offered in four-door, four-passenger models, the F-150 and the Expedition, and they are also sold in sedans and sport utility vehicles.
The F-350 pickup is also in production, but only as a small-block, diesel-powered version.
Ford also is developing an autonomous system that would be capable of performing the same tasks as an on-board computer system, the person said.
Some analysts have suggested that Ford is considering offering its trucks in the same package as its current cars, which are sold with all-wheel drive or all-terrain capabilities, and that the company could offer both systems as an option to consumers.