Posted by Dale Buss on February 26, 2013 11:26 AM
General Motors and Ford have been traveling down different lanes in their connected-car race right from the start. With their latest advancements, the two biggest U.S. automakers have continued to pursue quite different paths for getting to the same goal: clear leadership in automotive connectivity with the outside digital world.
GM shared the details at Mobility World Congress in Barcelona today of its plan to hard-wire 4G capabilities into its vehicles through the OnStar "telematics" platform that it introduced in 1996. Beginning with 2014 models sold in the U.S. and Canada, the company plans to connect its Chevys, Buicks and other brands to the Internet or Wi-Fi at speeds that are 10 times faster than current market offerings. Applications could include the display of real-time traffic jams or construction sites through the car's own brains on its in-dash screen and the piping of a robust video stream to screens in the back seat.
"We are going to make the experience of streaming or connecting more productive, which should help to make that road trip shorter," Mary Chan, president of the global connected consumer at OnStar, told the Wall Street Journal. Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 7, 2013 02:18 PM
The Ford brand closed 2012 on some weak notes, grappling with pesky recalls on its newest vehicles and trying to figure out how to shore up owner confidence in MyFord Touch. But some believe Ford is on course for a stellar 2013, the automaker is certainly showing signs of a new-year renaissance with its announcements at this week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Ford's difficulties last year stemmed largely from consumer confusion over how to use the MyFord Touch infotainment hardware and software, and their frustration spilled over into poor ratings via third parties such as Consumer Reports. Ford also took blows from issuing four recalls on its crucial new Escape SUV and from reviewer skepticism about reported mileage levels for its new C-Max hybrid.
Yet in the new year, which could be his last full one as CEO, Ford chief Alan Mulally and his troops will be able to rely on a number of momentum builders. They'll have full-volume sales of the newly designed Fusion mid-size sedan and, without any more recalls, should be able to build sales of Escape as well. Sales of the Focus compact continue to build; the Fiesta subcompact, in December, recovered a bit from its recent sales doldrums. And Ford's F-Series pickups continue as the best-selling vehicles in America.
Against that backdrop, and ahead of an expected "product blitz" at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford's 2013 CES news includes enhancing its SYNC AppLink in-car connected platform with new mobile partners:Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 19, 2012 01:52 PM
Ford may still be smarting from how Consumer Reports downgraded its reliability rating this year, largely because of continued customer problems with MyFord Touch. But CEO Alan Mulally is defiant in asserting the brand's leadership in infotainment technology and seems determined to keep it central to the company's strategy.
In fact, Mulally told Automotive News that the company plans to help Ford dealers serve customers with technology upgrades to its vehicles that will feel similar to how Americans already frequently upgrade to new smartphones or, say, to Windows 8.
"We want to move to the place where you have this enduring relationship with your Ford store just like your Apple store," he told the magazine. "You go in, you get the latest upgrades on the technology and off you go. You see what's coming, and you can decide which features you want."
Unfortunately for Ford, such "features" these days don't necessarily include MyFord Touch. After a strong start in the infotainment biz with Sync for a few years, MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch have been souring the brands' relationships with new-car buyers for two years now, and finally have begun bringing down regard for Ford overall.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 15, 2012 04:02 PM
Ford has taken some arrows as the auto industry's social-media-marketing leader, most notably around a staged press conference in Sept. 2011 that was pushed out on social media. But for the most part, the automaker's social aggressiveness has helped it conquer new territory. Becoming an acknowledged trailblazer in the arena also has helped Ford sidestep potential problems that can attend companies if they get too far out on social-media limbs.
"Ford being well-respected ... in the social space, has given us an added level of credibility and it has given us a legion of fans who actually act as our eyes and ears and who can flag stuff for us," Scott Monty, Ford's director of social media, told Business Insider. People are "looking out for our best interests and will say, you know, 'You guys might want to take a look at this.'" Including, evidently, the company's CEO.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 23, 2012 05:50 PM
Less than a year and a half after Consumer Reports first devastated Ford with its critique of the automaker's MyFord Touch infotainment system, the influential arbiter of consumer decisions is back at it again with an even more devastating review of MyFord Touch -- one that comes after Ford's mighty efforts to fix the platform.
"Why the MyFord Touch Control System Stinks" is the title of an almost-vitriolic blog posting on the magazine's web site by Eric Evarts, a senior automotive editor. "We wouldn't recommend dealing with the frustration of MyFord Touch on a daily basis even to an adversary," he wrote.
Specifically, Evarts didn't like how Ford has removed lots of conventional buttons and switches on MyFord Touch -- essentially, Version 2.0 of its pioneering Sync infotainment system -- in favor of touch-screen commands and voice controls that he says are badly executed, complicated, and potentially a safety concern as Ford and Lincoln drivers try to use the system while hurtling down a highway. Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 11, 2012 06:06 PM
Turns out that maybe American drivers are more sensible than either the U.S. government or automakers give them credit for. New research shows that when it comes to "infotainment" and "telematics" in cars, auto owners are much more interested in Point-A-to-Point-B applications such as navigation than they are in making sure they can feed their Twitter account from the driver's seat.
Mobile applications are encroaching in the vehicle — look at Ford's Sync voice-activated technology, Hyundai's Blue Link, GM's OnStar, the Mercedes-Benz "iPhone on wheels" concept and Apple's iOS 6 announcement that it's integrating Siri voice recognition as an "eyes-free" (from the device, not the road) digital sherpa. Look for Siri voice command buttons on the steering wheels of upcoming vehicles from nine automakers: Land Rover/Jaguar, BMW, GM, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda. (Update: the news took at least one of the auto brands by surprise — Fast Company reports that Chrysler wasn't aware of being included in Apple's announcement.)
But for all the push of technology and connectivity into the passenger seat, consumers don't want Facebook and Twitter integrated into the driving experience, nor are they looking for a Zooey Deschanel-style chat about adding reminders or what to listen to (sorry, Siri).Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 3, 2012 06:15 PM
Ford isn't obscuring its brand identity in its new "Go Further" campaign because executives are afraid of American consumers' preconceived notions about Ford. They're pretty happy with Ford's brand equity in its home country right now, thank you, after Ford relied on its own resources to lead the Detroit Three back to financial soundness and market-share gains over the last few years.
But Ford does want to tease viewers into taking a close look at the Ford products and features highlighted in the ad, unaffected by overall brand impressions. So Ford isn't named in the ad, and its iconic blue oval logo isn't shown either.
"The idea was to start out to get peple talking and then introduce slightly different versions of the ads later on, with Ford front and center," Mark Schirmer, a Ford marketing spokesman, told brandchannel. "It allows the product to shine without any feeling left, right up or down. There is no branding involved."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 28, 2012 02:02 PM
Car brands have become intent upon roping in reluctant consumers from the Millennial generation. That's why Ford has decided to set up shop, literally, in Silicon Valley, and why General Motors has turned to MTV for advice.
Today's twenty-somethings have looked like trouble for a while to America's automakers because they can't be counted on to swoon about cars they way their parents did — and often still do. Of course, the importance of digital connectivity to this generation has been well-established, and Ford has managed to capitalize on it with its trail-blazing Sync infotainment platform.Continue reading...