Masterclassing Connect

Ford Makes Play to Lead Connected Car Industry

Andy Penfold

Car manufacturer Ford is set to unveil a host of mobile-focused products and services at its Mobile World Congress 2016 keynote.

The company's announcement, which starts at 2pm local time in Barcelona (1pm GMT), will include news of customer experience platform FordPass coming to Ford models in Europe. You can watch the Ford keynote live here.

FordPass will kick off with partnerships with BP and parking payment provider Mobile City, and parking search tool Parkopedia. It also allows users to monitor servicing needs and schedule car maintenance checks.

Ford also says its SYNC 3 connectivity technology will debut in Europe this year. SYNC 3 allows users to control a range of apps and in-car functions such as climate and entertainment using simple "conversational" voice commands, according to Ford. The company also says SYNC 3 will tie in with courier app MyBoxMan, which enables drivers to make money delivering packages.

Aside from in-car app use, Ford is throwing its weight behind autonomous vehicles. At MWC 2016, the company is launching the Kuga SUV, which features a range of driver-assist technology which the company says is part of its development of driverless technologies.

The Kuga features Perpendicular Parking technology for hands-free parking, a new version of the company's Active City Stop collision avoidance system, and Adaptive Front Lighting for improved visability.

The company says it is tripling its driver assist technology engineering investment this year, with a view to developing fully autonomous vehicles within four years.

Watch the Ford keynote live here at 1pm GMT.

David Murphy writes:
As Ford CEO Mark Fields reminded the audience during his presentation this afternoon, Ford was the first car maker to exhibit at Mobile World Congress five years ago, and as he made clear today, the company remains firmly committed to mobile. “We are going through the most significant shift in our history as we expand from an automotive company to an automotive and a mobility company,” he said.

Fields pointed out that the automotive industry generated $2.3 trillion each year of which Ford gets six per cent. “The transportation services industry is $5.4 trillion and today, Ford and our automotive competitors get virtually none of this,” said Fields. “That’s a massive opportunity and it’s why we are expanding our business. Transportation is on the cusp of a revolution and it’s inspiring a revolution at Ford.”

Fields also unveiled a plan for better engagement with the company’s customers and prospects, pointing out that the typical Ford vehicle owners spends 900 hours a year in their car but only 4.5 hours in their Ford dealership. Part of this initiative will see Ford invest in what Fields called personal mobility assistants who would be on hand 24/7 to answer any queries a Ford owner might have about their car or their travel plans. “We are re-imagining the entire customer experience,” he said. “We aim to do for the auto industry whay iTunes did for the music industry.”