CES 2011: Ford Gains Ground With Tech Savvy Customers
Two years ago, Ford announced it was closing the books on a $14.6 billion loss for 2008 – the worst annual result in its 105-year history. Today, after an energizing Consumer Electronics Show in which the CEO, Alan Mulally, called Ford “the app of choice for car buyers”, Ford announced it is hiring 7000 new workers over the next two years.
The company’s bet on technology has been instrumental in turning the automotive manufacturer into a brand consumers seek out. “34% of our customers told us Sync played an important part in the purchase decision,” said Doug Van Dagens, Global Director, Connected Services, Ford Motor Company.
In our conversation at CES 2011, Van Dagens stressed that Ford was opening its technology platform to broaden the capabilities Ford cars offer consumers that make them more desirable, not to upsell services directly. “We offer 180 different APIs to help developers improve our customers’ overall driving experience.”
Unlike OnStar, which was more or less hard-coded to a button in the vehicle, Van Dagens says Ford’s Sync experience is open to encourage rapid innovation without requiring a car upgrade. That also increases resale value by enabling the software to evolve without hardware obsolescence. The company has made its gains in resale value a major merchandising point, touting the 39% gains seen in the Taurus model this past August.
On the quality side, Ford’s gains have been impressive, as evidenced by the results of the 2010 J.D. Power survey which focuses on the number of problems per 100 vehicles. Ford has shown steady improvement over the last nine years on this metric and was the highest quality non-luxury brand in the annual rankings. The third place ranking Ford garnered in the 2010 BrandIndex of top US brands also reflects the growing buzz and positive public perception building around the automaker.Continued on the next page