Archive for Ford

Ford To Stop Selling Cars In North America….. Wut?

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 26, 2018 by itnerd

Seeing as I do review cars, this announcement by Ford caught my attention. In their latest financial release [Warning: PDF], Ford “will transition to two vehicles” — the Mustang and an unannounced vehicle, the Focus Active as being the only cars that they sell in North America. Everything else that they will sell will be a pickup truck, commercial vehicle, or SUV as those are what Ford says that North Americans want.

Another tidbit that caught my eye was that Ford was going to invest in a new type of vehicle that will “combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility.” That sounds like a crossover to me.

To me this seems like a huge risk to me. But I am a computer nerd and not a car executive. I get that car sales are dropping and truck/SUV sales are way up. But that’s only going to last as long as gas is moderately affordable. When gas skyrockets in price again, customers will ditch vehicles like trucks and SUVs for more fuel efficient cars. When that happens, because it’s a case of when and not if, Ford might be in trouble. And the Honda’s, Toyota’s, and Hyundai’s of the world who sell both cars and trucks will be there to take advantage of that. And Ford will be left scrambling. Or, perhaps they’re on to something that nobody else sees and they’re simply way ahead of the curve.

Time will tell.

Ford Announces Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Updates For 2016 Vehicle Owners

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 19, 2017 by itnerd

If you own a 2016 model year Ford, you can now get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via software update.

You can download the update from Ford’s owner support website, but it will also be the first over the air update for Sync, meaning users with Wi-Fi enabled vehicles will be able to download it directly. If none of that appeals to you, you can always have your dealer do it for you. Though that’s likely to cost you.

More details can be found in this press release from Ford. This is positive news as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are key features that both new owners of cars as well as existing owners of cars expect. Thus companies who take care of both parties will get significant amounts of loyalty from both groups of owners.

BlackBerry & Ford Sign Deal To Use BlackBerry Solutions In Cars

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 31, 2016 by itnerd

BlackBerry today announced an agreement has been signed with Ford Motor Company for expanded use of BlackBerry’s QNX and security software. The deal signifies an acceleration in BlackBerry’s pivot from hardware to software in support of the automaker’s goal of providing connected vehicles and mobility to its customers.

As part of this agreement, BlackBerry will dedicate a team to work with Ford on expanding the use of BlackBerry’s QNX Neutrino Operating System, Certicom security technology, QNX hypervisor and QNX audio processing software. The terms of the deal are confidential.

The combination of BlackBerry’s expertise in security and QNX’s mission-critical operating systems and software for automotive applications, allows the company to offer the most secure, trusted and reliable platform that can power every aspect of the connected car. 

BlackBerry’s QNX software powers more than 60 million vehicles, including the SYNC 3 Infotainment system in Ford’s current models.

Ford Commits To Self Driving Cars By 2021

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 18, 2016 by itnerd

Up until now, self driving cars have only been touted by companies like Google and Tesla. In the case of the former, it’s still in beta. In the case of the latter, the capabilities are limited. Ford has upped the ante by committing to having self driving cars available for sale for ride sharing purposes by 2021:

To get there, the company is investing in or collaborating with four startups to enhance its autonomous vehicle development, doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.

“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. “We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people – not just those who can afford luxury vehicles.”

Autonomous vehicles in 2021 are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in autonomous vehicles, as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

This is an interesting move by Ford as they are now the first of what I will call the “traditional” automakers to fully commit to developing this technology and getting it into the marketplace. One has to wonder how long it will take the GM’s, Honda’s and BMW’s of the world to make a similar announcement?

Ford Brings SYNC With CarPlay & Android Auto To Millions Of Cars

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 5, 2016 by itnerd

Ford seems to be playing both sides of the fence. At the same time that they’ve teamed up with Toyota to do their own in car infotainment standard, Ford announced two things:

  • Every 2017 model year car equipped with Sync 3 will have both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto preinstalled.
  • If you have a 2016 Ford with Sync 3, a software upgrade will be available later this year to bring your car up to date.

Not only that, the company also announced 4G LTE connectivity so that they can do the following:

In addition, new SYNC Connect technology powered by 4G LTE gives owners the ability to remotely access features of their car. Owners can program a remote start, unlock doors, check fuel level or locate a parked vehicle via their smartphone.

My thoughts? Maybe Ford is going to take this route to see which way the market goes before jumping into one standard or another 100% It’s an interesting strategy that Ford has latched onto. It will be interesting to see how well it works for them.

Ford And Toyota Team Up On In Car Infomatics

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 5, 2016 by itnerd

The two headed monster of Apple and Google has clearly spooked some car makers when it comes to in car infotainment systems. Why? There’s a bunch of reasons. Top of the list is the loss of control of customer data as well as the ability to make their particular systems unique enough to stand out from the crowd. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when the news slipped out yesterday that Toyota and Ford are teaming up on this front:

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker by vehicle sales, and Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, said they will adopt a Ford-developed software called SmartDeviceLink, or SDL, as the standard for connecting smartphone apps to vehicle dashboard screens.

SDL technology integrates smartphones apps with vehicles through dashboard buttons, display screens and voice recognition technology. Using it as a standard for projecting navigation or music streaming apps from a driver’s smartphone could help Ford and Toyota reduce dependence on Apple or Alphabet Inc’s Google, company officials said.

This isn’t the first time that car companies have gone in a different direction from the one that Apple and Google want them to go. Mecedes Benz, VW, and BMW bought Nokia’s HERE mapping division for more or less the same reason. The real question is if this is something that the car buying public will respond to positively. I say that because some people want a in car system that comes from Apple or Google and nothing else will do. Thus we’ll have to wait and see how this shakes out.

Ford Punts Microsoft From Sync For QNX

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on December 12, 2014 by itnerd

You might recall that Ford partnered with Microsoft to produce the Sync system. That partnership appears to be over as Microsoft has been dumped for QNX which is a BlackBerry product. Here’s what AutoWeek has to say:

The new system, which Ford calls “Sync 3,” uses BlackBerry Ltd.’s in-car operating system, QNX, instead of the Microsoft Corp. technology that has underpinned Sync since its introduction in 2007. 
 
Sync 3 will be available starting in the 2016 model year and offered throughout the full Ford and Lincoln lineups by the end of the 2016 calendar year, Ford said today.
 
With Sync 3, Ford hopes to resolve the bugs and complaints that turned MyFord Touch from an industry-leading feature into a liability. Raj Nair, Ford’s product development chief and chief technical officer, said the company incorporated more survey data and feedback into Sync 3 than it has when rolling out any new vehicle.
 
Nair said Sync 3 — so named because it’s the third generation of Sync, with the second being MyFord Touch — is designed to be more intuitive and quicker than the current system, which Ford introduced in 2010 to make its vehicles stand out among technology-craving, smartphone-carrying consumers. He said it’s designed to be “device agnostic,” working with any type of smartphone, though it does include Siri Eyes Free capability for more seamless integration with Apple Inc.’s iPhones.
 
“We don’t want you making a purchase decision about a $30,000 automobile based on your $200 smartphone,” Nair told reporters at a demonstration this week.

The funny thing is that this was rumored almost 11 months ago. Clearly, it took a while to actually come true. I for one think this is a good move for Ford as both CarPlay from Apple and Android Auto from Google will force car companies who use neither to step up their game to keep pace. It also removes one hell of a boat anchor from around their neck.

As an aside, this is another boost to BlackBerry and a big slap to the face for Microsoft. I wonder how the former and latter will spin that?

BlackBerry Isn’t Sweating Loss Of Ford…. At Least Not Publicly

Posted in Commentary with tags , on July 30, 2014 by itnerd

Yesterday, Ford Motor Company announced that they were ditching BlackBerry for iOS devices. That’s not a minor switch as it covers thousands of devices. The one thing that I didn’t have was BlackBerry’s side of the story. The Wall Street Journal got an answer of sorts:

BlackBerry played down the significance of Ford’s decision.

“While we can’t comment on this customer, we understand that there is diversity and choice in the market. Whether customers choose iOS, Android, Windows or BlackBerry devices, BlackBerry has the mobility management software to securely manage any device,” a BlackBerry spokeswoman said in an email.

Okay. We really didn’t learn much there. But it’s a pretty safe bet that a defection that is this large isn’t going over well in Waterloo. It’s also a safe bet that efforts are being made to make sure that there are no further defections like this.

 

Ford & GM Sued Over Cars Ability To Rip CDs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 30, 2014 by itnerd

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies is suing Ford and General Motors for millions of dollars over alleged copyrights infringement violations. This organization argues that Ford and GM infotainment systems have the capability to rip (or in non-nerd speak copy one or more tracks) from a CD and that violates the law. Specifically the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. Thus these companies need to cut this organization a cheque. Here’s some more details from the ComputerWorld article on this:

The lawsuit calls out a feature in Ford vehicles called Jukebox, which records songs from CDs to the infotainment system’s hard drive. The Jukebox function has been available on Ford vehicles since at least the 2011 model year.

For example, the owner’s manual explains, “Your mobile media navigation system has a Jukebox which allows you to save desired tracks or CDs to the hard drive for later access. The hard drive can store up to 10GB (164 hours; approximately 2,472 tracks) of music.”

The lawsuit also cites GM’s Hard Drive Device, made by Denso, which can rip music and has been available on numerous models since at least 2011.

The suit seeks millions of dollars to be paid by each of the companies for violating the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. The Act protects against distributing digital audio recording devices whose primary purpose is to rip copyrighted material.

I have to admit that I’m a bit puzzled by this lawsuit. The reason being that this is known as space shifting which is defined this way in Wikipedia:

Space shifting (or spaceshifting), also known as place shifting (or placeshifting), allows media, such as music or films, which is stored on one device to be accessed from another place through another device.

Now this was upheld by the Ninth Circuit in the landmark case RIAA v Diamond Multimedia 15 years ago. That case affirmed that space shifting to the Diamond MP3 player for personal use was considered fair use. Thus one wonders how long this will last in front of a judge. But I am a computer geek not a lawyer. Perhaps a real lawyer could comment on this.

REPORT: Ford Dumps Microsoft For BlackBerry QNX

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on February 24, 2014 by itnerd

This has to sting for Microsoft.

Reports suggest that Ford is about to dump Microsoft as the provider of their Sync infotainment software for BlackBerry’s QNX OS. The same underpinnings that powers BB10 devices:

Using QNX will be less expensive than licensing Microsoft technology and will improve the flexibility and speed of the next Sync system, the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public, said Feb. 22. Ford has more than 7 million vehicles on the road with Sync using Microsoft voice-activated software to make mobile-phone calls and play music.

This has to be a huge vote of confidence for BlackBerry and if you’re Microsoft, this must, really, hurt because Ford made a big deal about being in bed with Microsoft when Sync first appeared. I also wonder if existing Sync owners will get an upgrade or does this only apply to new owners who buy new cars?

Assuming that this is true of course. We’ll see if it is or not soon enough I suppose.