Ford will woo consumers with connectivity

Connecting the car to the IoT should bring new revenue streams to carmakers but, so far, most consumer surveys show the technology has failed to excite car buyers.

Yet, that is bound to change according to Abraham Philips Ford’s manager of connected vehicle and services speaking to TU-Automotive. He believes customer engagement has yet to take off because it has yet to be rolled out enough throughout the industry’s vehicle offerings.

Yet that is about to change. Philips said: “Connectivity will be foisted upon consumer simply because of mandates such as eCall and the existing mandates in Russia. The question of whether they accept the rest of the package that comes along with it is a different question.Naturally, OEMs are going to try to capitalise on the fact they will have a modem in the vehicle, so you will see them provide services that feature that modem. Also, because they have put an expensive modem in the vehicle, the OEM will want to try to recoup some of its cost.”

Philips said the adoption of connected car services also depends on the volume manufacturers bringing it to consumers. He explained: “So far, I’m not so sure that connectivity has been mainstream enough for people to ‘jump in’ to it. It’s been some very premium OEMs who have produced premium products at a very premium price. I think that’s going to look very different when the likes of Ford, VW, Renault and PSA jump into this game who will provide things from a much more economical point of view.

“This is what we do – we democratise technology, we democratise services and when you’re talking about us as an OEM along with others in the same pool, customers are going to find features at a price point that is relevant to them and these will be far more beneficial to them than anything we’ve seen in the market today.”

Philips value-for-money and easy of use are the key elements required to persuade consumers to get involved with the technology. He said: “Free always works but it’s also about how what kind of services and how seamlessly they are provided to the customer. If they have to jump through hoops and play bells and whistles and other gymnastics to make these work, this technology is not going to go anywhere. So it’s about how easy it to activate, how easy is it to use and how cheap is it to employ that will dictate how connectivity will roll out to the masses and be acceptable.”

Ford’s Scott Lyons, responsible for business and partner development – connected vehicle and services, also highlighted an additional area of connectivity that should excite businesses providers. He explained: “We have a phrase describing the multi-connected car. The car will have multiple connection points – the car will be connected and then the driver will be getting in with a smartphone, its own data connection. The merging of both these things together provides a very interesting dynamic. This is a very interesting area for people looking for investments and things like that they could be thinking about the harmonisation of those two connectivity points.”

Philips concluded that despite the slow initial take-up of connectivity, the technology is guaranteed a successful future in the automotive industry. He said: “People want to stay connected – that’s a truth and the basis from which everything else is built on. The merging of the connectivity sources is going to provide a unique context for personalisation as well as information that is relevant to the person or persons that are in the vehicle.”



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