Recently, I had the distinct pleasure to be sent to the Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. I was sent to learn more about the future of the Ford company - to learn where they are headed in terms of technology, sustainability, ecology, and the future of a car company that, not too long ago, had one of the worst reputations in the car industry.
Oh. I can say that because my first car *was* a Ford. A Ford Pinto. A 1976 dark green Ford Pinto, with a yellow stripe, and a hubcap size rust spot hidden under the floor boards, so that you could do the Fred Flinstone if, say, your clutch froze and you couldn't go faster than 22 mph on the highway - until your dad did an engine overhaul, giving you a manual clutch that was the envy of all your friends.
Or maybe I'm fantasizing again.
The trip was broken into three days - Day one was travel and a dinner at Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions. I *love* me some football, and so the opportunity to kick a field goal on Ford Field was one that I just couldn't pass up.
It didn't make it over the goal. Came really, really close, though.
The second day was classroom type instruction. There were four rotations - Technology, Sustainabilty, Design and Innovation. You selected the sessions in which you were most interested and your day was scheduled according to this arrangement
I picked the Technology session for my first, because I'm most interested in it, and I think Ford does an amazing job integrating technology in a customer friendly way. My husband drives a Chrysler, and they have a similar system, but I find it so frustrating to use that I don't even bother. I love my Jeep more than is probably advisable, but the My Ford Touch system that they have makes me more than slightly covetous.
Notes from the session that really stuck out for me:
- 67% of people believe most people would be better off with a simpler lifestyle
- 46% wish lives were less cluttered - I know I do, but I rarely do anything to make it better (except complain)
- Consumer reality - daily commute is 47 minutes a day and they expect on demand connectivity
- Ford introduced voice control in 2007 to minimize distractions. Eyes on the road hands on the wheel. Imbedded voice control brought in (phones) and beamed in and built in.
- Creating a stylish car, a seductive car, means a fun car that will be bought
- Approach your purchases as if you will only buy one for life
- We live in a remix culture - I laughed when I heard this, but it was so very true.
I did shoot a couple of photos of some relevant boards:
The Design panel was next. Apparently, these are famous people. Apparently, I am clueless, because I not only didn't know who they were, but wondered why I was hearing what seemed to me to be a lecture on how important these people were -
when I wanted to see where the design was done. That was the second half, and it was much more interesting. Imagine, if you will, a car, created out of clay. And imagine that your job is to create in that clay - all day long. Wouldn't that be the best day EVER? Watching the gentleman customize the styling, changing this flare or that, and then moving along to the paint and interior, showed me the level of detail that Ford puts into their cars.
I learned a lot in this session, although I did have to question one fact. It was presented that kids in the 15-20 (ish, I was, ahem, chatting when the figure was represented) are becoming less interested in getting their drivers licenses. I don't see this at all in my life. Not at all. My two who have their licenses, the next up coming, and the hundreds of their friends have all, to a man, been anxious to get their licenses. Maybe in cities that have great public transit and/or really good walk scores (do you know yours? My city rates at a 40 - very low) but I asked for back up on her figure.
I didn't get it. A friend found it and gave it to me - it was on the Internet - and I wonder if I believe facts from the Internet. :)
Maybe my kids want their licenses so they can get away from me. Hmmm.
I am really, really impressed with the work Ford does to make their cars both recyclable and eco friendly. Electric cars, internal fabrics made from recycled jeans and plastic water bottles and so much more that I can't remember.
This day of the trip left me with a really favorable impresion of Ford as a company. I like the direction that they are taking. The next post will tell you what I thought of Ford, the cars, as I participated in a few test drives.