Technology pays, and Ford plans more

Automotive News reports on Ford's technology strategy.

DETROIT--Ford Motor Co.'s Sync technology system is profitable. It's also highly popular, prompting Ford to plan more such features for its vehicles.

Ford's average transaction prices are up by $4,100 per vehicle from two years ago, said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas. He said that's because of new power trains, higher quality ratings, and Sync.

"We didn't originally say, 'Let's make line-item money on a specific feature,'" Fields said. "We want to make sure the whole vehicle works. So not only does Sync make money, but the features that go along with it help raise the transaction price of the vehicle."

Ford's Sync is an infotainment system based on Microsoft Corp. software that pairs with a driver's Bluetooth phone. Sync initially was designed to control music devices and cell phones.

Fields, speaking at the Automotive News World Congress, said Ford plans to develop more entertainment, infotainment, navigation, cell phone connectivity, and Wi-Fi technologies for its car and light-truck lineup.

Fields said 46 percent of Sync owners want Wi-Fi in their next vehicle.

In 2010, the Consumer Electronics Association estimates, automakers racked up about $6 billion in revenues from vehicle technology sales to consumers, Fields said.

In 2010, technology options such as Sync and MyFord Touch helped the automaker post its largest market share gain among 18- to 24-year-olds, he said.

MyFord Touch is Ford's voice-activated and touch-screen technology that controls features such as temperature, music, and cell phone calls from a screen. It's an option on the 2011 Ford Edge crossover and standard on the Lincoln MKX crossover . The technology is called MyLincoln Touch at Lincoln.

Ford sees wider profits and a chance to attract more 18- to 24-year-old consumers by offering more in-vehicle technology.

The automaker has 220 technology experts and several suppliers working on the technology, Fields said. Ford will hire 750 salaried engineers, software architecture designers, and other technology experts this year as part of its effort to bring new vehicles and new technology to market.

"These people are game-changers, addressing a whole new generation of consumer needs and desires," Fields said.

Navigation remains the most desired in-vehicle technology among consumers, he said, followed by the ability to integrate a cell phone in the car for hands-free communication.

(Source: Automotive News)

 

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