Ford to Revolutionize In-Car Software with Customization and User-Friendliness
For those seeking to completely wean off gasoline, the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus may not have been on their radar. However, there are compelling reasons why this new SUV should be considered. The vehicle introduces a revolutionary software system that not only has significant implications for future Ford or Lincoln electric cars, but also reveals the direction in which the Dearborn manufacturer is heading in the coming years and beyond.The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus may not initially appeal to buyers looking to ditch gasoline altogether. Yet, there are compelling reasons to consider this new SUV as it ushers in an impressive new software suite. This technology not only has major consequences for potential future Ford or Lincoln all-electric vehicles but also provides insight into the direction in which the Dearborn automaker is headed over the next few years and beyond.
Ford has recently revealed a plethora of information regarding its highly anticipated Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience. This new software suite will be featured in the newly released Nautilus and will soon be available for other vehicles as well. Developed by Ford internally as part of the automotive industry’s trend towards in-house software development, this operating system boasts unprecedented speed levels and an abundance of customization options. Additionally, it offers in-car applications such as YouTube and Amazon Prime Video, along with enhanced integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Although the Nautilus is available with either a turbocharged gasoline engine or a hybrid powertrain, Ford’s technology team is insistent that this system will shape the development of future electric vehicles.
“Piece of cake,” stated Brian Nash, a digital product line manager for Ford’s Model e division, during a media briefing last week with InsideEVs. “We have designed [this platform] in a manner that allows for easy installation on any vehicle. It’s a straightforward process. That is one of the main components of this platform.”
In numerous aspects, it gives the impression of being more suited for an electrified destiny rather than a gasoline-driven one.
Ford showcased two variations of this technology to press members in Dearborn: a Lincoln-tailored edition currently accessible on the Nautilus, and a forthcoming version designed for Ford cars. As a reminder, the former boasts a panoramic 48-inch screen that spans the entire width of the dashboard.
While the display may not have touch-based controls of its own, it is completely operated through an 11.1-inch central touchscreen, which is a slightly more traditional approach. However, this is still Ford Motor Company’s interpretation of the popular “all screens, all the time” trend, as seen on models like the Mercedes-Benz EQ Hyperscreen and Cadillac Celestiq. The main focus on this screen is providing users with customizable options and a user-friendly experience.
Ultimately, there is a significant distinction between implementing an innovative and bold software interface in a vehicle from a newly established company whose clients are probably tech-savvy trailblazers; Ford, on the other hand, must create such a feature for a wide range of consumers.
According to Zafar Razzacki, Ford’s director of future product, EV digital experiences and services and a former employee of Google, “If you follow J.D. Power’s data around customer satisfaction with the in-vehicle experience, it’s actually been declining over the last couple of years.” Razzacki attributes this decline to the increasing complexity of technology within vehicles. He explains that customers are feeling overwhelmed and confused by this complexity, which is why Ford has made it a key design principle to focus on simplicity, ease of use, and customization.
According to Ford, these features allow for crucial data such as media, weather, and fuel efficiency to be conveniently displayed on the panoramic screen that is directly in the driver’s field of vision. The screen also allows for easy swapping of apps, similar to a smartphone. Additionally, individual driver profiles can be saved to ensure a personalized setup every time they enter the vehicle, although this feature is currently limited to one car and not applicable to other Ford or Lincoln models. Users also have the option to prioritize voice commands through either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, depending on personal preference. Furthermore, real-time traffic updates can be accessed via Google Maps.
At Ford, speed is a top priority, according to company executives. They understand that many customers are dissatisfied with the slow infotainment systems found in numerous vehicles, often because they fall behind advancements in the tech industry and continue to use outdated chipsets. In an effort to address this issue, Ford is determined to push the boundaries. Their new system boasts 14 times faster graphics processing and eight times more storage than the previous SYNC setup.
In the same manner, additional functionalities and enhancements are being delivered through over-the-air updates, a concept first introduced by Tesla and now regarded as crucial for the technological advancement of the automotive industry.
Hadi Saab, Ford’s director of product management for infotainment and cabin systems, emphasized the significance of smartphones in setting the standard for customer experience responsiveness. He stated, “We know that smartphones set the bar in terms of responsiveness of customer experiences, and this is the system that raises that and delivers to that experience.” According to Saab, this new system is the fastest infotainment system that Ford has ever developed.
Just like many other companies in the industry, Ford is also providing downloadable apps from Google Play for their vehicles. This includes popular apps such as Spotify, Amazon Music, and Audible, similar to those offered by their competitors like General Motors’ Ultium EV platform.
Included in this offering are features such as gaming and streaming directly from your car, like the Ford-exclusive edition of the popular racing game Asphalt Nitro 2, which can be enjoyed using a Bluetooth gamepad. Streaming options include YouTube, Prime Video, and the Vivaldi browser, with Google Chrome set to be added in the near future and even Bluetooth keyboard compatibility.
In addition, Lincoln’s expansive panoramic screen may also feature more specialized forms of content, such as gaming or streaming. And the visual quality on this screen is expected to be exceptional. According to Saab, “This is the most advanced display we have ever incorporated into a Lincoln vehicle, comparable to the top-of-the-line televisions found in households.”
The concept of streaming and gaming in vehicles is a modern and innovative trend that may seem unfamiliar to those who are accustomed to purchasing cars based on performance and fuel efficiency. However, it is important to recognize the trajectory of the automotive industry, which largely revolves around electric vehicles (EVs).In recent years, the idea of using cars as a platform for entertainment has gained popularity. As more people spend time in their vehicles during commutes and road trips, the demand for convenient and enjoyable features has increased. This has led to the integration of streaming services and gaming capabilities in certain car models.At first glance, this may seem like a surprising development in an industry that has traditionally focused on speed and gas mileage. Yet, it reflects a larger shift towards EVs. As the demand for greener transportation options grows, car manufacturers are investing more resources into developing and promoting electric models.Incorporating streaming and gaming into car design not only caters to the needs of modern consumers, but also aligns with the future direction of the automotive market. It shows a willingness to embrace new technology and adapt to changing preferences.In conclusion, while streaming and gaming in cars may be a departure from traditional priorities, it is indicative of the evolving landscape of the auto industry, where EVs
Above all, it is evident that one of the primary intentions behind adding these features is to provide people with entertainment while they wait at fast-charging stations, which is still not as efficient as refueling a gas-powered car. However, it cannot be denied that the ultimate goal for the automotive industry is to achieve complete automation in driving. As this technology continues to advance, drivers will require something to occupy their time in the vehicle when they are not actively operating it. The introduction of these features feels like a gradual progression towards this goal.
According to Razzacki, “I think we all just have to accept that that’s an inevitability.” He shared his thoughts with InsideEVs, stating that “There will come a day when we will be able to fully take our eyes and hands off the road.” Razzacki believes that this is necessary in order to use the vehicle during this time.
According to him, “there is a plethora of opportunities to improve productivity, enjoyment, and rest.”
The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus has rolled out with a range of exciting features, and is now available for purchase. While the specific Ford and Lincoln models that will incorporate these cutting-edge systems have not been revealed, the manufacturer has promised to announce further information in the following weeks.
We are aware that these software capabilities align with Ford’s upcoming plans for electric vehicles, which are still in the works despite uncertain public acceptance in 2023. In fact, just one day after showcasing this technology to reporters, Ford declared it would be scaling back production of the F-150 Lightning to prioritize the manufacture of gasoline-powered trucks and SUVs. Nonetheless, the company remains committed to their future release of the T3 Truck, an all-electric model, and a recently disclosed patent may offer insight into a customizable electric vehicle platform currently being explored.
Ford representatives emphasized that this software suite is “just the start,” highlighting its importance in a future where success may be determined more by electric range and technological capabilities rather than traditional mechanical aspects. Razzacki also noted that while the entire automotive industry is striving towards similar objectives with software services (and the associated revenues), Ford has taken a proactive approach by bringing these functions in-house instead of depending on numerous external suppliers. This allows the company to prioritize creating a user-friendly experience for individuals who are not accustomed to software-driven vehicles.
According to Razzacki, there is one particular aspect that stands out in their approach. “Our strong partnerships with Apple, Google, and Amazon are truly noteworthy,” he stated. Despite Ford’s platform being the focus, the company also aims to create a distinctive experience for themselves by collaborating closely with these tech giants. “We are not only gaining valuable insights from them, but we are also striving to incorporate the best of Android into our platform for development, while also catering to the needs of our customers,” Razzacki explained.
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