Investors have been concerned that Ford is not moving quickly enough in markets such as China and in sectors such as automated cars to fend off competitors, including new ones emerging from Silicon Valley.
Jim Hackett said Ford needs to automate and simplify its production processes and invest $7 billion in its successful products, such as SUVs and light trucks, which have driven US sales this year.
Ford is also planning to make its vehicles more tech-savvy, with 90% of its vehicles sold around the world “built with connectivity” by 2020.
Executives said those features – such as easy compatibility with phones and other devices – would help attract customers to the brand.
They said they also opened opportunities for new lines of business, such as medical transport, ride-hailing and goods delivery.
Ford already operates a shuttle bus service called Chariot in four US cities and is set to expand it further by the end of the year. It said it has signed agreements to work with cities such as Mumbai on transport.
Jim Hackett said Ford had been slow to shift to electrification because of the costs. But it is working on partnerships with companies such as Zotye in China, where the government has called for quotas related to electric car sales.
Previously top of their game in the car industry, US car giants, Ford reported something of a decline in interest over the past few years. With an optimised strategy, some seriously well structured marketing and heavy investment in technology, the brand has recently been invigorated and bounced back, fresher than ever.
Innovation led by nature
Once considered innovators, Ford have risen to the challenge of staying on top of innovation once again. With a dedicated centre in Silicon Valley, they have used biomimicry of the beloved gecko to inform development of the eco-friendly materials used to make the interior. Geckos hold strong to almost twice their bodyweight, making them a good model materials for the car industry. This technique of using nature to inform design was deployed also when Japan’s Shinkansen was developed, based on the speed of a kingfisher.
Tech uses in car
Ford’s unique AWD (All-wheel drive) of the newest Ford models was led by their impressive Ford Performance team, who are on the cutting edge of speed and agility in the automotive industry. There are tech features such as Traffic Sign Recognition and SYNC 2 connectivity which are noticeable in cars and point to a reinvigorated brand that oozes innovation. The EcoBoost Engine Technology and AWD demonstrate Ford’s innovation and companies such as Motorpoint have reported a rise in sales of recent Ford classics, which indicates a revival of Ford makes that Essentially, you can get a lot of the features in these recent and sporty models in cheaper models such as the Zetec S and the ST variations of the Focus.
For fans of David Hasselhoff’s Knightrider in the 80s, it’s exciting to think about the concept of autonomous cars actually driving themselves. Whilst this has not yet happened, Ford have a range of semi autonomous vehicles out on the road already, with no sign of stopping their innovation and production.
With tech leading their connectivity, design and innovation, Ford have embraced technologies such as Vines and other social media to improve their marketing, targeting a younger, millennial audience with a cohesive strategy that uses tech in all its forms.
2017 looks set to be Ford’s ‘year’ with regards to innovation and technology.