CES 2010: Mulally positions Ford as technology leader in keynote

In his second year delivering a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show, Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally framed an image of his company as the leader of entertainment, usability, and information technology among automakers. From the introduction of Sync in 2007 to the reveal of MyFord Touch here in Las Vegas, Ford has shown unrivaled commitment and speed in rolling out new technologies. In fact, Ford’s mere presence at the Consumer Electronics Show is a display of its dedication to in-car connectivity. Kia is the only other automakers with a significant presence.

Ford’s announcement on the CES stage centered around the next-generation infotainment system that is expanding from the center stack to incorporate the instrument cluster and will rely more heavily on voice commands. The new hardware also allows for Internet connectivity and integration with applications carried on mobile phones. “These are the features that set us apart: our signature brand technologies,” Mulally said. “And we believe these features have a place in every Ford vehicle, not just our luxury models.”

In May 2009, Ford met its goal of delivering one million vehicles equipped with Sync before 2010. While the company claims 63 percent of customers use voice commands with Sync, Ford also recognizes the need to educate shoppers and buyers on a technology that doesn’t have the everyday presence of mobile phones. Partnering with Best Buy and its Geek Squad service branch, the Dearborn automaker recently completed a pilot in the Dallas area to demonstrate the voice-command technology to both car shoppers and owners. The program will soon expand to include customer clinics in Pennsylvania and California with the same goal of familiarizing users with the Sync voice commands.

Mulally also shared the stage with Derrick Kuzak, vice president of global product development, and several other engineering leaders to unveil MyFord Touch. In revealing the in-car entertainment, information, and navigation system, the speakers emphasized the importance of continually updating technology.; “As we see it, our challenge is to maintain or improve the pace of innovation we set in 2009 to deliver even better vehicles each and every year with even better technology,” Kuzak said.