Dealerships

Ford's new dealership digital kiosks reduce customer check-in time by 75 percent

The new kiosks significantly cut down on the time spent checking in vehicles at dealerships.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Last fall, Ford initiated a pilot program at seven dealerships across the U.S. that installed digital kiosks designed to help improve the check-in experience for Ford dealerships. The result is a 75 percent reduction in the amount of time customers spent checking in when they arrive at the dealership for service.

"Our goal is to change the perception of the dealership experience," said Robert De Filippo, global director, Ford Retail Customer Experience. "We can start to do this by meeting rising expectations for fast and reliable service and letting each customer know they matter to us."

Ford outdoor kiosk check in Ford is piloting outdoor kiosks as well.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Liberty Automotive Group in Ohio recently ordered more kiosks after successful implementation of the initiative, which resulted in interactions lasting only 25 percent of the time of the traditional check-in at the dealership.

"The way I see it, there are two types of customers," Andrew Bellavia, Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Automotive Group said. "Customers who are coming in for quick service or maintenance on low-mileage vehicles who want to get in and out quickly, and then customers who have unique cases that they want to discuss in-depth with our service staff. These kiosks provide an option to the customer who wants to move fast, freeing up service advisors to address the more complex concerns."

Bellavia said in December the kiosk in the Brunswick location assisted 241 out of roughly 1,100 customers, and 85 percent of these said the kiosk made their check-in process easier.

Across the seven pilot dealers, the average customer check in time using the kiosk is just over two minutes. Additionally, 84 percent of Bellavia's users said the kiosk made their check in experience easier and 90 percent said it was able to answer all of their questions.

Ford explains how the kiosk experience works:

Imagine pulling up to a busy service area. All service advisors are busy assisting other customers. A wait seems eminent. Enter the digital service kiosk. Not unlike digital kiosks seen in other retail establishments such as fast-food or airline travel, digital kiosks in dealership service areas allow customers to check-in and select services without interaction with a service advisor.

Upon approaching the kiosk, the customer is prompted to enter their phone number via touchscreen. From there, the customers' primary information is displayed for verification of name, address, vehicle type, and preferred method of contact. The customer then chooses the services their vehicle needs from various menu options and selects how they would like to be contacted with updates regarding their vehicle service. Recalls pertinent to the customers' vehicle also are displayed on the screen during the check-in process.

According to Ford, outdoor versions of the kiosk currently are being piloted to provide access to vehicle drop-off or pick-up any time of day or night. The new outdoor kiosks will offer similar options as the indoor iterations and will eventually have the added capability of accepting and delivering keys.

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Research and development

Ford names site for battery development facility

Ford's new facility will house battery research and development.

Ford

Ford is in the news again for its electrification efforts, this time with the confirmation of a Michigan location for a new battery research and development facility in Romulus, Michigan. The facility may eventually help Ford in-source much of its EV supply chain, a shift that could prevent or mitigate the challenges presented by parts and technology shortages.

As part of its electrification initiative, the automaker plans to build a new research and development facility, called Ford Ion Park. The facility will house new tech research, pilot programs for new manufacturing techniques, and will help give Ford more control over its supply chain.


Ford Ion Park Once complete, the facility will initially house 200 engineers.Ford


The price tag for the new facility and related efforts lands at $185 million, which sounds like chump change for a global automaker until we consider that Ford has committed $30 billion to electrification by 2025. The automaker says that its new facility renews its dedication to Michigan as its home base for EV development, a promise it originally made back in 2010. The company's new electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck will be built in Dearborn, which will add 500 jobs. An additional 225 jobs will be retained at Ford's Dyke Electric Powertrain Center.

As part of Phase One of the project, Ford plans to hire 200 engineers within 18 months of the 270,000-square-foot facility's opening. Ironically, the site was previously owned by A123 Systems, a battery manufacturer that closed the facility in 2017 due to low demand for batteries.


Ford Ion Park Ford has committed $185 million to the new facility and related efforts.Ford

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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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