19 July 2011

‘Aggravating’ MyFord Touch sends Ford plummeting in quality survey

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MyFord Touch
Interestingly, the badly designed user interface of the in-car telematics system was the primary gripe among Ford and Lincoln owners and lessees in the latest J.D. Power survey.

“After steady year-on-year improvement, Ford has plunged from fifth position in 2010 to 23rd in the 2011 Initial Quality Study released by J.D. Power & Associates on Thursday. Lincoln, the luxury subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, was ranked eighth last year, but fell to 17th this year. […]

Primarily, the steep decline was attributed to consumer complaints about MyFord and MyLincoln Touch, the company’s in-car telematics systems that use a touch screen, dashboard display and voice commands presumably to help drivers operate radio and climate controls, as well as the navigation system.”

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Acclaimed designer Alan Cooper provides further reflection on the matter:

“Automobile manufacturing companies like Ford need to acknowledge that they are no longer making automobiles with attached computer systems. In reality, they are making computer control systems with attached motion mechanisms. The digital computer is increasingly dominating the driver’s attention, even more so than the steering and brakes. If auto makers don’t give equivalent attention to the design and implementation of these digital systems, they will fail, regardless of the quality of the drive train, interior furnishings, and other manufactured systems. […]

Back in the 1960s and 70s, it was efficient for an automobile company, with core competencies in big manufacturing, to outsource dashboard electronics to specialized vendors. but now those little radios have become all-encompassing telematics, and Ford, whether it likes it or not, has to integrate the design of its electronic solutions with the design of its manufacturing business. It’s the riddle for the information age again: Ford isn’t a car company with digital capabilities, but it is a computer company with big manufacturing capabilities.

Designing and building a better automobile cockpit is the tip of the iceberg. The biggest task facing Ford and other car companies is changing the way they think and the way they work.”

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