Ford has formed a single organization that has authority over the automaker’s in-car digital experiences, interfaces, screens and controls, and it is using its hubs in places like Silicon Valley to attract software engineers and technology specialists.
“We’re fundamentally changing the culture of engineering inside Ford,” Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said Thursday (Feb. 3) during the company’s quarterly earnings call. “The hardware will always be important, but the software and the embedded systems will define the next generation of our vehicles’ experiences.”
These vehicle experiences are being complemented by over-the-air (OTA) software updates. In a presentation released along with the call, Ford reported that it has built almost 1 million OTA-capable vehicles and expects to build more than 30 million by 2028.
Developing “Always-on” Relationships With Customers
During the call, Ford executives also delivered updates on other elements of Ford+, the company’s plan for growth and value creation that was launched in 2020 and includes integrated hardware and software, connectivity, Ford Credit, the commercial customer-focused Ford Pro and electric vehicles (EVs).
“While we remain in the teeth of the COVID crisis and semiconductor shortages, our overall business plan is still in great shape,” Farley said. “And at the same time, we’re rapidly making progress on key aspects of the Ford+ plan. And for customers, that means more distinctive products and solutions, more always-on relationships with our brands and adding ever-improving user experiences.”
In the three months since Ford’s last earnings call, the company has rolled out several new elements of Ford+ that support what the company calls its “always-on” relationship with both retail and commercial customers, the executives said.
On the Ford Pro front, the company launched two new digital tools for its commercial customers. One, Ford Pro Intelligence, is a cloud-based platform that supports commercial customers’ total fleet operation. The other, VIIZR, is a tool that’s built on the Salesforce platform and is designed for small-business customers that work in the field.
Investing Aggressively in Growth
To deliver a new kind of connected service, the company formed Canopy, a joint venture with ADT that will deliver professional security monitoring and artificial intelligence (AI)-based camera technology to secure vehicles and their cargo. This is to be made available for both new and existing vehicles of all makes.
Read more: AI-Powered, Connected, Monitored Service Will Provide Vehicle Security
To facilitate transactions with both commercial and retail customers, Ford entered a five-year agreement with Stripe. This, the automaker said, will scale Ford’s always-on, eCommerce capabilities for customers.
See more: Ford-Stripe Partnership Aims to Transform Cars Into Tokenized Wallets
In the Ford Credit segment, the automaker reported that in the fourth quarter, the FinSimple commercial lines of credit drove a 23% year-over-year increase in U.S. commercial vehicle financing.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2022, Ford said in the presentation that it expects supply constraints to continue due to the semiconductor shortage and the pandemic. It also expects inflationary pressure to continue to impact a broad range of costs.
“We’re committed to our Ford+ plan, and we’ll continue to invest aggressively to drive growth and value creation,” Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said during the call. “This includes devoting resources to customer-facing technology, connectivity, our always-on relationships with customers and electrification.”