Mulally Says Fixes Coming for MyFord Touch
By James B. Treece, Automotive News
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally vows that revised versions of the Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment systems will be simpler and more reliable and says more improvements are coming.
He also says Ford has tightened its quality-control process for developing those systems' software. That appears aimed at avoiding the glitches that have dogged the new technologies and hurt Ford's standings in quality and reliability studies.
Told of anecdotal tales of shoppers who want to buy a Ford but won't if they have to take MyFord Touch, Mulally replied, "I think that when they see the new upgraded versions of it, they might change their mind."
Early next year, Ford will send owners of vehicles with MyFord Touch or MyLincoln Touch a flash drive that they can use to install an upgrade without going to a dealership.
In a wide-ranging interview with Automotive News, Mulally also said:
-- He sees "continuing expansion" for the U.S. economy through the rest of this year and next. He declined to predict auto sales, "until we get through the fourth quarter."
Europe, on the other hand, has "a lot of uncertainty" in its outlook, Mulally said. He predicted "zero to slightly improving" economic growth there next year, with results "very mixed among the countries."
-- The recently signed UAW contract will make Ford "fully competitive" with transplant factories over the four-year term of the contract, "because the gap will just continue to close."
"We are now continuing to invest" in U.S. factories and jobs, he said. "This has reversed many years of getting smaller and smaller."
But he disagreed with recent comments by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne that the UAW contract's two-tier wage structure is not viable over the long run.
In defense of the two-tier wages, Mulally said: "I think the agreement that we have with the UAW and the employees has enabled us to be competitive, and I think it's good."
Mulally praised Sync, MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch and said that Ford won't slow its plans to install the systems in its vehicles.
The company plans to make the systems standard on future Lincolns, and to include them on 80 percent of the Ford-brand lineup by 2014, in some cases as standard equipment.
"We haven't changed anything about our strategy on introducing it," Mulally said.
A driver can use Sync and MyFord Touch to operate the audio, temperature and other controls and place cell phone calls by means of either an 8-inch touch screen in the center console or voice commands.
Mulally strongly defended the systems, saying they enhance safety by keeping drivers' "hands on the wheel and eyes on the road." He said many consumers are fans of the systems.
For consumers, those technologies are "a reason to buy," Mulally said. "With 50 percent of the people, it's part of the decision to purchase a car. Seventy percent of the people that use Sync and MyFord recommend it to their friends."
But Mulally conceded that Ford "got feedback early" from consumers "very clearly that in some areas maybe it was a little too sophisticated with maybe a little too many options."
"We have most of the issues identified, we have fixes in place and we've already started" installing those fixes, he said, adding that more improvements will follow.
He compared Ford's response to that feedback to the ways consumer-technology companies improve electronic goods.
"Are there things that we learned from that? Absolutely. That's what a technology company has got to be really good at, too," he said: Introduce the technology, "but also stay real close to customers and continually improve it."
The negative feedback has gone beyond individual consumers complaining to dealers.
In January, Consumer Reports magazine said it won't recommend the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers because of low test scores -- mainly the result of MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch technology.
The magazine called the technology "a complicated distraction while driving." It said "first-time users might find it impossible to comprehend. The system did not always perform as promised."
In a J.D. Power and Associates survey released in June that tracks problems reported during the first 90 days of ownership, the Ford brand fared worse than the industry average for the first time since the 2006 model year.
Power said the main problems were MyFord Touch and fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmissions that seem to hesitate in an unfamiliar way when drivers shift gears or accelerate.
Originally posted by Automotive News (subscription required)
Content provided by AutoWeek.
Ford's Mytouch and Sync (AKA Stink) systems are product flops. FoMoCo has ventured into territories that they have no business in especially from a company that can't make a cruise control module that won't set your garage on fire. I have the Stink system in my Edge and it ain't worth a darn. A basic smart phone is way superior in navigating.
IMO, car companies are putting way too much expensive tech into autos that are only on the road for 7 to 10 years. How about just making a really good & durable product for several thousand less than the tech laden counterpart. I dunno about everyone else but I don't need a screen to adjust the A/C controls or radio. Ford has gone too far and it has bitten them. (again).
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at email@example.com.