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Ford Ready to Un-Friend Microsoft

Maker reportedly ready to switch to BlackBerry for its Sync system.

by on Feb.24, 2014

Ford's latest Sync update expanded the capabilities of the system but failed to completely resolve ongoing consumer complaints.

Ford has good reason to take claim for kick-starting today’s automotive infotainment revolution.  Its Sync system was the first to really put the technology in the eye of the American consumer, ushering in an era where motorists can access everything from music apps like Pandora to social media such as Facebook while driving.

But while Sync initially led millions of potential buyers to consider Ford products, an assortment of problems with Sync and the related MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch interfaces has resulted in countless others steering clear of the maker – Ford watching its quality scores slumping as a result of those issues.

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So there’s probably little surprise that the automaker is about ready to un-friend Microsoft, the Seattle-based software giant that supplies the underlying technology behind Sync – and which has gotten much of the blame for glitzing screens, slow responses and balky touch interfaces. Instead, the Detroit maker is expected to shift to the QNX operating system developed by BlackBerry Ltd.


GM Tops Power’s Initial Quality Survey for 1st Time

High-tech problems are now car buyers’ biggest headache.

by on Jun.19, 2013

Hot Wheels...the Camaro was one of eight segment winners for GM in the 2013 IQS.

After years lagging the imports, General Motors has surged to the top of the charts in the 2013 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, the most influential measure of vehicle quality during the first months off the showroom lot.

The new study also reveals that, on the whole, the quality of this year’s cars, trucks and crossovers actually declined a bit from 2012 – a decline largely the result of design-related problems that, for the most part, can’t be resolved at the dealership. Issued related to the latest infotainment systems and other high-tech devices are the single largest source of these buyer headaches, according to J.D. Power.

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On the positive side, “Manufacturers are doing a lot better when it comes to engines and chasses and other mechanical systems,” explained Dave Sargent, the head of automotive research for California-based J.D. Power and Associates. “Most of the problems people are now reporting involve the latest technology.”


Japanese Makers Dominate Consumer Reports Reliability Study

Audi, General Motors make gains – but Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Nissan all slide.

by on Oct.29, 2012

Audi's -- its S4 shown here -- pops into the Top 10 for the first time in the CR reliability study.

Japanese makers – led by Toyota – dominated the 2012 automotive reliability study by influential Consumer Reports magazine.

But the study showed that European makers, notably the Audi brand, made significant gains. So did General Motors, though the other two Detroit makers didn’t fare nearly as well in the annual report by the non-profit magazine.

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“Ford had a pretty bad year,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing, noting that the Ford brand fell to 27th among the brands covered by the study while its sibling Lincoln marque dipped to 26th.

Toyota Motor Co.’s three U.S. brands led the annual reliability study, Scion in first place, followed by Toyota and then the Lexus luxury line.  Mazda, meanwhile, landed in fourth position.  Japanese makers have traditionally led the Consumer Reports study.


What Went Wrong With Ford Quality?

Maker boosts sales but takes a hit with “bleeding edge” technology.

by on Jun.24, 2011

A Touch of the devil? Problems with the MyFordTouch system hurt the maker's overall quality score.

Ford Motor Co. wants to function “more like a consumer electronics company,” CEO Alan Mulally has repeatedly stressed, something the maker is backing up with an array of in-car technologies that notably include the popular Sync infotainment system and the latest iteration, MyFordTouch.

The focus on what some call “bleeding edge” technology has paid off in many ways. Mulally, for one, has repeatedly keynoted the Consumer Electronic Show three times, an honor more traditionally granted the likes of a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. And Ford suggests that Sync has been a major factor in the buying decision for many customers, especially younger motorists who expect to be connected 24/7.

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But there’s a downside, as the maker was reminded this week.  Ford was pummeled in the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, a closely-followed measure of out-the-factory-door quality.  (Click Here for the full report on IQS.) Just a year ago, the maker shot to 5th place, topping rivals like Honda and Toyota to become the highest-ranked mainstream brand.  But this year, Ford plunged to 23rd, behind not only the major Japanese brands but long-time quality laggards like Chrysler and its Ram truck brand.

“Ford dropped notably last year,” said Dave Sargent, the head of global research for Power, the California-based market research firm, adding that, “If it weren’t for MyFordTouch, we wouldn’t be talking about Ford.”