Though complaints about the infotainment system hammered Ford’s standing in the much-watched J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, the Detroit maker isn’t giving up on its “MyTouch Ford” connectivity system but is working on ways to make it more user-friendly, CEO Alan Mulally says.
Ford, which was the top-ranked mainstream brand in the 2010 IQS slipped to a below-average ranking in the 2011 study, Power analysts saying that complaints about MyFordTouch were the primary reason. But the infotainment technology has taken other hits from such influential sources as Consumer Reports magazine, which pulled several Ford and Lincoln models using the system off its recommended buy list.
Mulally said Ford is taking criticism of the system to heart and is working on series of changes. “We believe now that it didn’t have enough computational power,” Mulally told analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call.
That translates into slow and sometimes inaccurate operation. The fix recommended by Ford’s trouble shooters is being applied right across the line and should help answer the customer complaints, claimed Mulally.
Mulally said Ford is taking the adverse comments about the system very seriously. But the company is not about to walk away from the new technology – which company officials say is also responsible for attracting a lot of new, tech-savvy young buyers.
That, acknowledged Power analyst David Sargent, is the conundrum: Ford is clearly standing out as a high-tech brand, but it risks alienating some buyers who are more technophobic.
“We are going to look at the problems very carefully,” said Mulally. “We believe that both of these technologies have a great deal of value,” he said, referring to the basic Sync and more advanced Ford and Lincoln MyTouch.
The Ford CEO also said his company is taking a long look at the complaints about the new five-speed and six-speed automatic transmissions that have been added to the company’s powertrain line up. The complaints have zeroed in on the shift patterns in both transmissions. Changes are in the works to adjust the pattern by shortening the time between shifts.
As in the case of “My Touch Ford” and “Synch,” the feedback from Ford’s customers has been critical in getting at a fix for the problems, Mulally said, who insisted the maker is absolutely committed to do everything it can to deliver the best possible quality to customers.
Mulally didn’t say how much the changes to the connectivity systems or the transmissions will cost Ford. But Lewis Booth, the company’s chief financial officer, said the maker will spend whatever is necessary to strengthen its position in the future.