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Ford Aims to Speed Up, Simplify with Launch of Sync 3

Maker hopes to overcome problems, increase appeal of third-gen infotainment system.

by on Dec.11, 2014

Ford introduced Sync 3 today. The new infotainment system is supposed to look and act like a smartphone.

Ford Motor Co. has completely redesigned its popular – if oft-criticized – Sync infotainment system, hoping to resolve ongoing problems while expanding the range of features and improving the system’s usability.

During a demonstration at the maker’s suburban Detroit product development center, Ford officials noted that, among other things, the new version of Sync will directly link up with Apple’s voice-activated Siri assistant, while accessing more than 40 cellphone-based apps. Behind the new capacitive touchscreen display, Sync now uses a faster microprocessor – and software developed in partnership with Panasonic, Ford abandoning its earlier alliance with tech giant Microsoft.

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“We tried to make it look and act more like a smartphone,” explained Ford’s Global Product Development Director Raj Nair. (more…)

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.

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Ford Produces 10 Millionth Sync-Equipped Vehicle

Technology draws in new buyers – but also creates headaches for Detroit maker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Ford's latest Sync update permits th maker to draw a number of smartphone apps into the vehicle, including the Pandora music service.

Depending upon your point of view about in-car technology, the announcement from Ford could be seen as good news or bad news – or perhaps a little bit of both.

The maker this month produced its 10 millionth vehicle equipped with the Sync infotainment system.  That’s just six years after Ford first rolled out the technology developed in cooperation with tech giant Microsoft.

“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers.”

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Since its introduction, Sync has fostered some major changes in the auto industry and there’s not a brand to be found today that isn’t offering at least a basic in-car infotainment system. But while Ford claims Sync – and the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems – have drawn plenty of young, tech-savvy buyers into the brand’s showrooms, the technology has also created plenty of headaches for owners and for Ford which has seen its quality ratings tumble, in large parts due to problems with its infotainment systems.

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New Ford Acquisition Could Put More Smartphone Apps on Your Dashboard

Livio began building Internet radios but shifted to in-car connectivity.

by on Sep.27, 2013

Ford has purchased Detroit software house Livio to help it expand the number of apps it can offer in-car.

Ford Motor Co. has alternately won praise for its high-tech Sync infotainment system and been slammed for the problems with its MyFordTouch touchscreen interface.  But even as the maker struggles to resolve some of those problems it has taken a big step forward in its push to give motorists access to a wide range of smartphone apps and features.

The Detroit maker has acquired a small suburban Detroit start-up called Livio for $10 million with an eye towards making it simpler to link Sync with motorists’ smartphones.  The goal is to come up with an industry standard for connecting those devices. Curiously, Livio’s first big automaker client was Ford’s cross-town rival General Motors, which recently turned to the small, high-tech firm for help with the infotainment systems on its downsized Chevrolet Spark and Sonic models.

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“With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation, in a statement.

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Ford S-Max Concept to Debut in Frankfurt

Updated big brother of C-Max people-mover will get array of new technologies.

by on Aug.28, 2013

Ford will officially reveal this new S-Max Concept during the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

Ford will roll out a concept version of its S-Max crossover during the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, and it will feature a variety of new technologies that can even track a driver’s health.

The 7-seat S-Max is the larger, more upscale version of the Ford C-Max “people mover” recently introduced in the U.S. market. The Concept hints at an update being seen by the automaker as a way to draw in the young European families Ford desperately needs to attract in order to reverse years of substantial losses in the struggling Continental car market.

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As has become typical with Ford’s recent concepts, what you see is pretty much what you will get, global design director J Mays said during a Detroit media backgrounder.  The design, he said, is a “very good indication of what the next  S-Max will look like.”

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Ford Facing Class Action Over MyFord Touch Problems

High-tech system takes hits for a variety of problems.

by on Jul.18, 2013

Ford has been taking a lot of heat for problems with its touch-based infotainment technology.

Ford has been taking some big hits in consumer surveys for the last several years due to problems with its various infotainment systems, notably the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch technologies. And now those concerns could land it in court.

A federal class action has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Central California demanding “compensatory relief” on behalf of motorists who have been frustrated by the Ford infotainment systems – in particular, with the problems involving their touchscreen interface and generally software programming issues.

“The MyFord Touch problems in Ford vehicles are legion and now well-documented,” says Adam Levitt, a director at Grant & Eisenhofer, a law firm that specializes in consumer class action lawsuits. “Had consumers known about the numerous and widespread issues with the system in Ford’s cars, they would not have purchased or leased these vehicles. We intend to see that they are properly compensated for defective systems, and will call on Ford take affirmative steps to see that customers’ expectations are met.”

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Indeed, Ford has taken some sharp criticism in recent years after initially being hailed as a high-tech pioneer.  Five years ago, Ford was among the top mainstream manufacturers on the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey. The IQS released last month found Ford sinking to well below industry average which, according to Power’s automotive research chief Dave Sargent, was almost entirely due to problems with the various Touch systems.

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Ford Serving up “Video Snacks”

Maker hopes to improve owner satisfaction with latest high-tech features.

by on Apr.15, 2013

A Ford customer checks out some video "snacks."

If you’ve bought a new car over the last several years, chances are it’s been a challenge trying to learn all the new features, whether pairing a cellphone, using voice commands to program in a destination or setting up one of the new safety systems such as active cruise control.

Now, add the fact that dealers often have a hard time explaining the latest technology and you can understand why high-tech features have become the single-biggest source of complaints about today’s new vehicles, according to surveys by J.D. Power and Associates and other third-party researchers.

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That’s prompted Ford Motor Co. to launch a new service designed to help familiarize customers with the numerous features on their vehicles – something the maker has dubbed “video snacks.”  The idea is to give a new owner a place to go to check out short, online videos that allow them to review or learn about such features as MyFordTouch, remote start or blind-spot mirrors.

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Honda Gears Up

Gear Concept makes surprise debut in Montreal.

by on Jan.18, 2013

Honda Gears up for Gen-Y.

Considering the 1000s of journalists and industry leaders who descended upon Detroit this week, one is tempted to forget that things continue to happen in other parts of the industry. Indeed, there were several other significant auto shows occurring this week, some even making a bit of news.

Like the Montreal International Auto Show, where Honda decided to pull the wraps off the new Gear show car rather than bring it to Detroit – perhaps reflecting upon the fact that the Canadian market tends to be more favorable to urban-style minicars despite downsizing trends in the U.S.

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Formally known as the Honda Gear Concept Study Model, the prototype is designed to show that small cars can be more than utilitarian econoboxes. The show car may be “simple and utilitarian,” the maker says, but it is “also customizable, connected and full of personality.”

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Ford Promises to Fix “Isolated” Quality Problems

Maker remains committed to MyFordTouch despite problems.

by on Dec.19, 2012

Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields insists recent quality problems are "isolated incidents."

Ford has long claimed that “Quality is Job 1,” though it has taken a drubbing in recent months for some nagging problems that have seen it tumble on quality and reliability surveys.

The maker intends to aggressively address such “isolated incidents,” Ford’s new Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields insists.  That notably includes the maker’s Sync and MyFordTouch infotainment technologies which have come in for some of the sharpest criticism. But Ford will also have to deal with a variety of other problems that have seen some of its newest models repeatedly recalled in recent months, including a variety of recalls.

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“We’ve had a few issues,” acknowledges Fields, who until a few weeks ago served as Ford’s President of the Americas. “When we see a problem we go at it proactively to address the issue as quickly as possible.”

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GM Gets Siri-ous

Maker adds iPhone voice-activated system to three small cars.

by on Nov.27, 2012

Chevrolet will integrate Apple's voice-activated Siri personal assistant into three of its small car models.

General Motors is getting Siri-ous about its voice-activated infotainment technology.  The maker plans to introduce the Apple iPhone’s popular voice-activated personal assistant technology on three of its Chevrolet models early next year.

The technology will allow a motorist to do many of the things already found in older, less advanced voice-controlled in-car technologies, such as playing music, switching radio stations or plugging in a destination. But Siri was designed to go even further, providing access to an iPhone contact, for example, or checking or adding appointments and even finding a local business, store or restaurant.

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“Safe, easy, reliable and portable connectivity is a top priority for our customers and Siri complements MyLink’s existing capabilities to help deliver an incredible driving experience,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet’s small car marketing director, referring to the brand’s current infotainment technology.

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