In-Car Tech

Ford, Google form a strategic partnership to reinvent the connected vehicle experience

Ford and Google are teaming up to launch a new technology initiaitve.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

New models and fresh powertrain options are typical focuses for customers. Auotmakers have to reach futher, diving into the future during the present. Today, Ford has taken a step into its future by announcing a strategic partnership with Google that aims to transform and reinvent the connected vehicle experience.

The partnership will last six years with customers seeing the first fruits of its labor in 2023 when Ford and Lincoln vehicles begin to be powered by Android, with Google app and services built in. Polestar has already taken this leap.

Ford and Google personnel will work together under a new collaborative group, Team Upshift. They are tasked with pushing "the boundaries of Ford's transformation", unlocking personalized customer experiences, and "drive disruptive, data-driven opportunities". As an example, Ford offers that this may include "projects ranging from developing new retail experiences when buying a vehicle, creating new ownership offers based on data, and more".

"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 modernize our business," said Jim Farley, President and CEO of Ford.

"From the first moving assembly line to the latest driver-assist technology, Ford has set the pace of innovation for the automotive industry for nearly 120 years," said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet. "We're proud to partner to apply the best of Google's AI, data analytics, compute and cloud platforms to help transform Ford's business and build automotive technologies that keep people safe and connected on the road."

As part of the agreement, Ford has named Google Cloud as its preferred cloud partner as it aims to leverage Google's expertise in data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for future use. With Google Cloud, Ford plans to:

  • Further improve customer experiences for customers with differentiated technology and personalized services;
  • Accelerate modernization of product development, manufacturing and supply chain management, including exploration of using vision AI for manufacturing employee training and even more reliable plant equipment performance;
  • Fast track the implementation of data-driven business models resulting in customers receiving real-time notices such as maintenance requests or trade-in alerts.

Android in the car also enables Ford and third-party developers to build apps that provide a continuously improving and ever-more-personalized ownership experience.

"We are obsessed with creating must-have, distinctively Ford products and services," said Farley. "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."

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Custom SUVs

Ford Bronco to rule SEMA this year

The Bronco RTR features a fun livery and several off-road upgrades.

Ford

The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is an opportunity for the aftermarket and manufacturers to come together on wildly customized vehicles and to show off the latest parts and tech in the space. Now that the Ford Bronco has finally made its way to the public, it's not surprising to see several wild SEMA takes on the hottest SUV to hit the market in some time.

2021 Bronco by Tucci Hot Rods The tracks are said to improve the Bronco's abilities in deep snow and ice.Ford

2021 Bronco by Tucci Hot Rods

The new Bronco is capable and rugged on its own, but Tucci Hot Rods felt it needed more. The shop gave it that boost with a set of tracks in place of wheels, which are said to be great for deep snow and ice. This Bronco features a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed manual transmission to go with its Mattracks 88-Series quad tracks.

2021 Bronco RTR Fun-Runner by RTR Vehicles

Vaghn Gittin Jr's RTR Vehicles imagined a Bronco package that could be installed at the dealer. The result is the Fun-Runner, which features several Ford Performance and Ford Licensed Accessories parts. It's based on a 2021 two-door Bronco Badlands, and comes with an eye-catching wrap, an Ultimate Dana 44 front axle, Ultimate Dana 60 semi-float rear axle, RCV Performance CV axles, and a performance intake for its four-cylinder engine.

2021 Bronco by BDS Supensions SEMA presents an excellent opportunity for shops to show off their skill and imagination.Ford

2021 Bronco by BDS Supensions

BDS is a subsidiary of Fox Shocks and has worked with Ford for quite some time. The results of that long-running relationship are on display with the BDS Bronco, which features Fox 2.5 PES coilovers, BDS rear adjustable control arms and track bar, swaybar disconnect, and 37-inch BFGoodrich KM3 tires. The Bronco's bumpers have been replaced with CrawlTek Revolution units that feature a recessed winch mount, recovery hooks and more.

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Owners of 2020 and 2021 model year Infiniti vehicles will be eligible.

Infiniti

Apple CarPlay is a great feature that can add maps, streaming audio, and voice controls to even base model vehicles that would otherwise lack such technology. It also offers a standardized interface that works similarly to a smartphone's built-in software, so there's no confusion about how to operate the system. Until recently, users had to have their phones physically tethered to the vehicle with a wired connection, but many automakers have begun offering wireless connectivity. Infiniti is one of them, but in an unusual step, the company says that it will upgrade older model year vehicles with the technology at no cost.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay The upgrades will be free for owners.Infiniti

This means that if you own a 2020 or 2021 Q50, Q60, QX50, or QX80, you are eligible for the upgrade. Wireless Apple CarPlay became available for Infiniti vehicles starting with the 2022 model year, so it's a new feature for the automaker. The first model to support the feature was the 2022 QX55 and the new 2022 QX80 will offer the tech with its 12.3-inch touchscreen system. The 2022 Q50 and Q60 will both leave the factory with the feature, as will the upcoming QX60.

It's unclear how or if the upgrade will affect other vehicle systems, but it's a worthy move for anyone who owns a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti vehicle, if only to boost resale value down the road. Cars such as the 2021 Q50 came standard with a dual-screen infotainment system and wired Apple CarPlay, so the ability to go wireless would be a big bonus for some drivers.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay Owners have until March 31, 2022 to complete the upgrade.Infiniti

If you own a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti model, you have until March 31, 2022, to complete the upgrade. Infiniti says its dealers will perform the update at no cost to owners, so make your appointments now. The automaker has not announced plans to offer wireless Android Auto.

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