Ford and Google unite to 'reinvent' the connected vehicle
2 February 2021 - autocar
Industry giants agree six-year strategic partnership with aim of transforming vehicle ownership experience
Ford has partnered with Google to "reinvent the connected vehicle experience" as the car maker looks to accelerate its business transformation plan.
During the six-year strategic alliance, Google will provide Ford with expertise in data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and from 2023 the infotainment system of all Ford and Lincoln models will be powered by Android tech.
At this point, Ford will ditch its Sync infotainment system, which in previous generations was developed in partnership with Microsoft. Only Fords sold in China won't feature any of this, because Google's services are banned there.
Ford and Google will collaborate under the Team Upshift banner. This will seek to "unlock personalised consumer experiences," ranging from point-of-purchase processes to ownership offers based on data.
Google Cloud has been named Ford's preferred software cloud provider, which will allow the car maker to use existing data analytics and artificial-intelligence functions to enhance its product development and manufacturing operations, as well as provide vehicle owners with real-time notices for scheduled servicing or trade-in offers.
The two firms aim to bring "enjoyable, safer and more efficient connected vehicle experiences built to minimise driver distraction and keep customers at the forefront of technology withover-the-air [software] updates".
Beginning in 2023, Ford and Lincoln vehicles will offer Google Assistant voice control functionality, Google Maps navigation and the Google Play entertainment interface as standard. Plus, Ford has suggested that it will work with third-party developers to build apps tailored specifically to Ford owners.
A Ford spokesman said the system "allows us to have a more intimate relationship with a customer, because their behaviour in a vehicle will make all our interactions personalised".
A Google spokesman told journalists in a press conference for the announcement that Google wouldn't share third-party data with advertisers through this system.
Programmes from rivals, such as Apple CarPlay, will still be available.
Ford CEO Jim Farley said: "As Ford continues the most profound transformation in our history with electrification, connectivity and self-driving, Google and Ford coming together establishes an innovation powerhouse truly able to deliver a superior experience for our customers and modernise our business.
"We're obsessed with creating must-have, distinctively Ford products and services. This integration will unleash our teams to innovate for Ford and Lincoln customers while seamlessly providing access to Google's world-class apps and services."
Ford isn't the first manufacturer to enlist the services of the internet giant. In 2018, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance announced that it was working on a bespoke infotainment system in partnership with Google for launch in 2021, while the new Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge EVs use an Android-based infotainment system with inbuilt Google functions.