In-Car Tech

Ford starts PowerUp over-the-air update program to enhance tech in vehicles

Ford PowerUp brings technology updates to existing vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford PowerUp has launched, bringing with it the ability to keep vehicles up-to-date with the latest software technology, so long as their systems can handle it.

"Software updates are common across billions of connected devices but not yet for vehicles. Ford Power-Up software updates will change that by quickly bringing it to millions of people," says Alex Purdy, director, business operations, enterprise connectivity, Ford Motor Company. "We've invested in more seamless technology so updates can happen while you're sleeping – making your next ride a better experience."

Introducing Ford Power-Up | Innovation | Fordwww.youtube.com

The first PowerUp updates happened in March. Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers were the beneficiaries. Now the company is accelerating the program pushing out over-the-air updates to over 6 million vehicles already on the road. In order to receive those updates, vehicles must have an embedded modem. Nearly all new models have the feature.

The wireless upgrades enhance features, quality, experiences, capability, and convenience. The fresh technology is able to update the vast majority of vehicle computer modules – more than 110 on higher end models – and reduce the need for a trip to the dealership for service.

As part of the PowerUp rollout, Ford is also adding embedded Amazon Alexa to vehicles with three years of free connectivity. The voice command functionality allows users to be connected to their vehicle as well as the Amazon services in their home.

At first, 700,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada will get the tech with millions more to follow. The first models to get connected will be Bronco, Edge, F-150, Mustang Mach-E, and Super Duty that are equipped with SYNC 4 technology.

"Democratizing technology and putting it within reach of millions of customers has been a part of Ford's DNA dating back to the Model T, and our new collaboration is a continuation of that legacy," says Ned Curic, vice president, Alexa Automotive. "We can't wait for Ford customers to experience the best of what Alexa and voice AI can do while on the road – including new features and capabilities that will be delivered seamlessly through future over-the-air software updates. We love the vote of confidence from Ford to deepen our work together and continue making the driving experience more connected, entertaining, and productive."

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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