Ford Motor Co. (F:US) said it plans to introduce its MyFord Touch infotainment system, the subject of criticism in U.S. quality surveys, to its vehicle lineup in Europe starting next year.
The system will debut in an S-Max concept van at next month’s Frankfurt auto show, said Jim Buczkowski, director of Ford’s electronics and electrical systems engineering and research. MyFord Touch eventually will be available in all its models in Europe, he told reporters in a briefing yesterday.
Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally has pushed the second-largest U.S. carmaker to make unique technology a pillar of its new models. MyFord Touch has helped boost profit, while users in surveys by Consumer Reports and J.D. Power & Associates have faulted the reliability of its controls, as well as its small fonts, crowded screens and lack of buttons and knobs.
“We’ve made huge improvements and we’ve learned a lot along the way,” Buczkowski said in Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford is based. “Customer feedback has been really important, both likes and dislikes, as well as maybe things that we didn’t explain very well for customers.”
The technology contributed to Ford’s drop in rankings of surveys such as J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. The Ford brand fell to 27th in the latest study, released in June, from fifth in 2010. It ranked second-to-last in Consumer Reports’ annual auto-reliability survey in October.
In Europe, MyFord Touch will be an option or included as standard in premium packages, Buczkowski said. He declined to give specific pricing. In the U.S., the automaker typically charges $1,000 for the system.
Ford already offers Sync, a voice-command software system, on some models in Europe as part of an audio package. Sync usually is a $295 option in the U.S.
Ford will market Sync and MyFord Touch similar to the way it sells the two in the U.S., Buczkowski said. A technology package with just Sync will start in the Fiesta small car and the EcoSport compact utility vehicle and also will include Applink, which synchronizes applications on smartphones with the vehicle infotainment system. Another package will offer both Sync and MyFord Touch.
The automaker has released several upgrades to MyFord Touch, including one earlier this month on some 2014-model cars, Buczkowski said.
“It’s been a learning experience for us but it’s been an excellent experience to really bring the kinds of features and customer experiences that people want to have,” he said.
In the U.S., vehicles with Sync or MyFord Touch systems climbed to 79 percent of Ford’s 2013 car and truck sales, from 68 percent for year-earlier models, the company said in June.
Ford fell 3.2 percent to $15.88 yesterday at the close in New York. The shares (F:US) have risen 23 percent this year, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 14 percent.
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