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Ford Hints at Future Features

AutoPaciific’s Future Attributes Demand Study – An Industry Blble
One of AutoPacific’s specialties is Future Attribute Demand. Each year, AutoPacific surveys thousands of new car and truck buyers to determine what features they want on their next vehicle. AutoPacific then publishes a report called the Future Attribute Demand Study (FADS). FADS is used by the industry to help guide their decisions in which features to offer on their upcoming cars and trucks.
In addition to FADS, automakers also conduct their own research and use this information to determine where their design and engineering resources for advanced features should be expended.
Ford Features Cadence Will Bring Needed New Technologies to Ford’s Products
Ford has given us a glimpse of the cadence of future features that American car buyers can expect to see from the Company in the coming years. In Ford’s case, they conducted the research and have been closely evaluating what their competition is doing. Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s new head of worldwide product development, states that, “Ford will offer a new feature when it appears that two of our major competitors have offered or appear to be ready to offer it.”
In the past Ford has hesitated, often too long, in introducing new features that consumers want. When their internal analysis determined that a new feature might not achieve immediate acceptance and result in incremental sales volume, the Company hesitated. Now, that will change. Competitors, in addition to internal studies, will help guide Ford’s features.
So, what new features can we expect from the Dearborn car company?
First, their research shows a strong demand for capless fuel filling. Beginning in 2008, some Ford cars will begin offering capless fuel filling. In this system, behind the fuel filler door is a system that allows the fuel filler nozzle to be inserted without unscrewing a cap.
Ford also will be offering audio systems from Sony and THX surround sound audio on Lincolns. Ford is teaming up with Microsoft in a broadbased vehicle communications, information and entertainment system that will finally give Ford vehicles Bluetooth capability. Up to now, Bluetooth has been an accessory at the Blue Oval.
Lighting is also getting attention. Ford will begin to use interior ambient lighting for things like door handles and cupholders. Even door sill scuff plates on some vehicles will be lighted.
A really cool feature is light through paint. Using this technology rear high mounted brake lights can look like they are bodycolor. Ford’s signature keyless entry system buttons can be muted using bodycolor light through paint.
On the safety side, Ford will begin offering some technologies that has been available elsewhere for some time now: blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation systems.
Will Ford’s Fast Follower Strategy be Fast Enough?
It appears that Ford’s strategy is to be a “fast follower” in technology and not a technology leader. This is OK, as long as they follow fast enough. Having Fords without Bluetooth, iPod integration, playlist management, adaptive cruise, etc puts them well behind their competition. In today’s rapidly moving world, this is competitively unacceptable.

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