San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Just as Chrysler begins offering Internet for the car, Ford announced it is investigating Internet and other new technologies for the car.
Ford said last month it will form a 40-person "customer connectivity group," that will explore delivering consumer-friendly Internet and connecting Ford Sync radios to other new technologies, said Doug VanDagens, head of the new group.
Ford already announced an Internet-ready in-dash computer for its F-series trucks, aimed at contractors who work in the field, which is due this month.
Momentum for delivering the Internet to cars appears to building as Chrysler began offering a consumer Internet hot spot through its car dealerships last month (see TWICE Aug. 18, p. 64).
Ford is also fast tracking Internet development. Mark Fields, president of the Americas at Ford, said of the new team, "These 40 people will work at a clock speed that, frankly, neither the industry nor Ford has ever seen before." He added, the company will "continue delivering game-changing customer features."
Ford said it is pushing new technology to help make smaller cars more profitable. Fields explained "In-vehicle connectivity is particularly important to small car customers, who want to downsize their vehicle but not their smart technologies or creature comforts."
Ford already learned that by offering advanced features, it improved its take rate on navigation. The typical take rate for optional navigation systems is about 20 percent, but on the Ford Flex, the take rate is 38 percent for a voice-activated navigation system with an integrated Reverse Camera System, Sirius Travel Link (for traffic, weather, gas price and movie listing updates) and a 10GB hard drive for storing music.
On the Focus, the take rate on the Sync has driven the transaction price for the car up by $750, and Ford now sells "just about as many vehicles with Sync as without it," said Fields during a recent speech.
Fields also said Ford has "just tipped the 2 million vehicle mark" on Sirius satellite radio.