In the latest sign of the rapidly changing transportation industry, Ford announced Friday that it's acquiring Bay Area shuttle startup Chariot for an undisclosed sum.

"We're facing a transportation crisis," the automaker's CEO, Mark Fields, said at a press conference in San Francisco. The transportation systems and approaches of the last century "are at a breaking point," he said, and it is time for Ford to think of itself as a mobility company rather than just a car manufacturer.

The purchase of Chariot fits neatly into a trend of legacy car companies looking to the startup world to keep up with shifting tastes of consumers, who increasingly care more about transportation as a service than car ownership.

"For the big automakers to prevail in the future, they'd have to radically reinvent themselves as service companies, something they're entirely unequipped to do (as Stratechery's Ben Thompson notes)," wrote Inc. San Francisco bureau chief Jeff Bercovici in a recent column.

The acquisition is just one of a series of forward-looking moves Ford has announced recently. The car company said Friday it was also launching a bike-sharing platform, and announced last month it wanted to put a self-driving car on the road in five years.

Over the last year, Ford's competitors also have jumped on opportunities to acquire or partner with startups that are transforming the way people get from point A to point B. General Motors, for example, announced in March that it would purchase self-driving technology startup Cruise for more than $1 billion. GM also runs its own car-sharing platform and maintains a partnership with Lyft. (Lyft reportedly sought acquisition by GM but was rebuffed.)

The trend also extends to Toyota, which earlier this year announced an alliance with Uber; and to Volkswagen, which has invested $300 million in ride-hailing app Gett. BMW and Mercedes-Benz have relationships with car-sharing companies as well.

Chariot, founded in 2014, serves the San Francisco Bay Area with routes based on transportation needs of riders determined by crowdsourced data.

"Ford's acquisition of Chariot, subject to normal customary closing conditions, will serve as the cornerstone for its new global shuttle services business," Ford said in a press release. The company plans to launch the shuttle services in at least five additional markets in the next 18 months.

The company cites the increasing urbanization of the U.S. population as a factor behind changes in the transportation market. "Today, half the world's population lives in cities. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to 60 percent," Ford said in its press release. "As city populations grow, the challenges tied to moving people and goods around become tougher."