Automaker strives to make further improvements

MyFord Touch bugs are getting squashed, Hinrichs says

Automaker strives to make further improvements

Hinrichs on C-Max mpg restatement: "The nameplate itself was affected by the restatement."
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NEW YORK -- Ford Motor Co. has brought its problem-plagued MyFord Touch communications system up to exceed industry-average reliability -- and plans an upgrade to improve the system’s capability, Ford executive Joe Hinrichs said today.

“Rest assured, we’re not sitting still in this space,” Hinrichs said in a speech at the NADA/J.D. Power Automotive Forum here. Hinrichs is Ford’s president for the Americas.

Hinrichs said that measures of “things gone wrong” now rate Ford’s system as better than the industry average, although he hastened to say that Ford is not satisfied. The system, called MyLincoln Touch in Lincoln vehicles, is on version 3.6. Bugs in the system have hurt Ford in quality ratings like those of Consumer Reports.

Hinrichs said Ford has cut errors by two-thirds. But he would not give specifics about rumored use of BlackBerry technology in the system, or about future upgrades.

He did say that software improvements could bolster system capacity: “There are software limitations with the current system that we want to break through so that for the future we can offer more capability.”

Hinrichs added that Ford will continue to work out problems with versions of the system in current customers’ vehicles,

In another discussion, Hinrichs said the C-Max compact hybrid crossover was hurt in the marketplace when Ford had to downgrade its advertised fuel economy ratings last summer. Ford needs to “reinvest” in the vehicle after seeing consumer consideration drop in the wake of the restatement, he said.

“The nameplate itself was affected by the restatement,” Hinrichs said. “We saw that in the consumer data.”

With major launches such as the F-150, Mustang and commercial vehicles this year, Ford has taken a tougher look at vehicle development to avoid problems like those that hurt the most recent versions of the Escape and Lincoln MKZ. Hinrichs said Ford has been making “more aggressive decisions” earlier in the process to fix problems.

He also said Ford needs to monitor dealer feedback closely because some problems, like software errors, cannot be inspected effectively before a vehicle is sold.

You can reach Dave Guilford at dguilford@crain.com. -- Follow Dave on


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