Monday, January 11, 2016
NAIAS 2016: Ford Isn't A Car Company Anymore
You’re looking at the future of the Ford Motor Company. Though it doesn’t look it in terms of design or drivetrain (it’s introducing the Blue Oval’s first use of idle start/stop—something other automakers have been implementing on their products for quite some time), the 2017 Escape it’s the beginning of Ford’s move to make their vehicles smarter (you can read more on the Escape at the LA Auto Show here).
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Ford outlined Smart Mobility. A vision that helps change the way the world moves. It has five pillars: connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and big data.
A perfect example is SYNC 3—the company’s latest connectivity system. The latest version is seen on the new Escape where it integrates Sync Connect—an app that allows users to lock/unlock, remote start, find vehicle location, and even get vehicle status all through the convenience of a smartphone.
And this is just the beginning.
At the opening program for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Ford’s in-house futurist Sheryl Connelly (who you might know from the Further with Ford program), revealed that Ford is slowly evolving not just from being an automaker but to being an automaker, mobility provider, and tech company all rolled into one.
Looking at future trends such as the aging global population, Ford is part of the race to develop autonomous driving vehicles. Now already testing on Michigan roads, the company hopes to one day roll out their version of self-driving cars in order to make everyone, especially the elderly mobile. In fact, acceptance on autonomous driving vehicles, particularly in countries with high traffic such as China and India, is quite high because the average speed in urban traffic is just 20 to 25 MPH (32 to 40 km/h).
At the same time, understanding that driving is still considered as a joy for some, Ford will offer the opportunity for their consumers to dial-up or dial-down the level of autonomy. In other words, if you think Ford will kill the thrill of driving? Don’t worry. They’ll allow you to customize it, creating a personalized experience.
Connelly’s words echo Ford President and CEO Mark Field’s speech at CES, who didn’t refer to Ford as a car company, but as a mobility company: “We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company – and, ultimately, to change the way the world moves just as our founder Henry Ford did 111 years ago.”
The automotive industry, as everyone knows it, is at a cusp. The question is, are you ready for the change?