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“Like a Kid in a Candy Store;” Bill Ford Embraces the Culture of Risk

But investors remain wary.

by on Sep.14, 2016

Ford has to decide where to place its bets in a world where this is a "panoply" of options.

When the economy began to melt down in 2008, Ford Motor Co. learned the hard way that the only constant is change. And it’s a lesson Bill Ford, the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford and the carmaker’s current chairman, isn’t about to forget.

It helped to spend 11 years on the board of e-commerce giant eBay, the executive noted during a technology conference at Ford corporate headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan on Tuesday. The event was intended to  show how a company long viewed as a ponderous, Rust Belt relic was, in many ways, moving as fast as the oft-heralded start-ups of Silicon Valley.


“Many of the things we’re doing are far afield from a traditional car company,” Ford stressed. We’re disrupting ourselves. But rather than looking at it as scary, it’s a tremendous business opportunity.”


Ford Planning to Launch 1st Driverless Car by 2021

Initial focus: ride-sharing services like Uber, and delivery companies.

by on Aug.17, 2016

Ford recently began testing autonomous vehicle prototypes on public roads in Silicon Valley.

It has become conventional wisdom within the transportation industry that the introduction of autonomous vehicles will be a step-by-step process, starting with so-called “driver assistance” systems and only eventually reaching the point where cars and trucks will be capable of driving entirely on their own.

Ford Motor Co. says it is heading in a very different direction, however, the Detroit automaker revealing plans to put its first completely driverless vehicle into production by 2021. The model it is working on, global product development chief Raj Nair tells, won’t even have a steering wheel or pedals.

We'll Do the Driving!

“We don’t think the path to true autonomy is through a step-by-step, incremental process,” Nair said during a telephone interview. Having a driver sit behind the wheel, waiting to take over in an emergency is actually a dangerous solution, he explained because, over time, “You lose driver awareness. You lose the ability for a human to respond in a timely manner.”


Ford Outlines Plans for Autonomous Vehicles

Automaker puts self-drivers on fast track for production.

by on Jun.24, 2015

Ford announced its intention to fast-track its autonomous vehicle program in Silicon Valley, remaining competitive with other automakers.

Ford Motor Co. is joining the growing list of manufacturers planning to put an autonomous vehicle on the road.

The maker has announced it will put product development veteran Randy Visintainer in charge of its self-driving vehicle program. Elevating the profile of its autonomous vehicle program by moving the project from the research lab to its advanced engineering staff, which is in charge of making concept vehicles road worthy, means it’s on the fast track for production

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The news follows last year’s announcement of a partnership between Ford and both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University aimed at solving some of the vexing technical challenges involved in autonomous driving. (more…)

Ford Opens Silicon Valley Research Center

The lines blur between tech and auto worlds.

by on Jan.23, 2015

Ford expects to employ 125 at its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto.

As modern cars become increasingly dependent on digital technology, whether for safety, emissions or infotainment systems, the lines have been blurring between the rust belt and Silicon Valley. The latest example is a dun-colored office building in Palo Alto not far from such high-tech giants as Apple and Google. But this one will soon be staffed by 125 employees reporting to Ford Motor Co.

Ford was an early pioneer in the world of telematics with its Sync infotainment system. But as the maker – like its competitors – has come to learn, the pace of development in the electronics world operates far faster than in the auto industry. So, Ford’s new Research and Innovation Center will act as an outpost, tapping into the talent and technologies that have made Silicon Valley one of the world’s most important high-tech centers.

High-Tech News!

“The valley here is a marketplace of ideas,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was on hand for this week’s dedication of the Research and Innovation Center. “It’s about being in the right neighborhood because of all the collection of companies. Our folks going to the coffee shops will run into folks from other companies and strike up conversation.”


Ford Opens New Silicon Valley Lab

Transforming the car into an open-source platform.

by on Jun.18, 2012

Ford's Sync system gave the maker a taste of what it could achieve working with the high-tech world.

Forget the Rust Belt, Ford Motor Co. is now officially a part of the high-tech world of the Silicon Valley.

Recognizing the rapidly increasing role of digital technology in the automobile, the automaker has opened up a new electronics research lab within a silicon chip’s throw of such high-tech giants as Apple, Google and Intel.

“We have been innovating for more than a century at Ford, but we acknowledge we don’t have a monopoly on creativity,” observed Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford during the formal dedication of the new lab in Mountain View, California. “Our new office will complement our existing research efforts by allowing us to tap into the region that has been driving consumer technology forward in recent decades.”

Long associated with U.S. the industrial heartland, Ford has been expanding its global reach with a network of so-called “Research and Innovation” facilitiesin  Aachen, Germany; Nanjing, China; and its home in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.  It also has hired on technology scouts in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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“We want Silicon Valley to view Ford as a platform that is open, accessible and ready for their innovative ideas and technologies,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “We are looking for unexpected solutions for the future, and we believe Silicon Valley is the right place to round out our global research organization.


Ford Sets up Shop in Silicon Valley

New R&D center part of shift in thinking about car as mobile “platform.”

by on Jan.06, 2012

Ford's new Silicon Valley center will be located near key tech giants like HP, Microsoft and Google - as well as Stanford University.

Ford Motor Co. is setting up a new research lab in California’s fabled Silicon Valley, underscoring the Detroit maker’s efforts to turn the car into a mobile “platform,” rather than just a mechanical conveyance.

The new facility will help Ford develop a variety of new features and apps for its future products, from high-tech safety systems to advanced infotainment systems, company officials note.  It will be used to develop partnerships with both established technology firms – such as Microsoft, which developed the underlying software behind Ford’s popular Sync system – and start-ups.

The lab, which will be located near Stanford University, in Palo Alto, will help by “ushering in a new era of collaboration and finding new partners to help us transform what it means to be an automaker,” explained Ford’s Chief Technical Officer Paul Mascarenas, who suggested the move is “a very natural extension” for the second-largest of the U.S. makers.

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Ford has put a heavy emphasis on technology in recent years – as have many of its competitors.  Mark Fields, Ford’s President of the Americas, frequently talks about “democratizing technology,” by taking high-tech systems previously found in limited use on luxury products and putting it into high-volume production on mainstream models like the new Ford Fusion.