Ford Motor Co. has been urging its dealers to spend extra time explaining the automaker's telematics technologies to new-car buyers.
But now, under attack by those who say the technologies are potentially unsafe because they distract drivers, Ford is considering taking those explanations to another level.
Ford may ask its dealers to reconsider vehicle delivery, formalizing a two-stage process spread over several weeks. Under such a plan, new-car buyers might get a quick tutorial when they get the keys to a car -- and then be asked to return to the dealership for a follow-up clinic devoted to the new technologies.
It would be a radical change from the quick walk-around and hand-over of keys to the customer, and one that other automakers may have to consider as electronics in cars begin to rival those in smart phones.
"These technologies -- whether it's electrification, MyFord Touch or Sync -- people learn them over time," says Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of global marketing, sales and service. "They struggle with them, they learn them and it's the second or third delivery that needs to happen to really get the most use of the system."
The technology is a critical part of Ford's success. Ford says consumers are three times more likely to consider a Ford product once they learn about Sync.
But Consumer Reports magazine has panned the voice-activated touch-screen technology known as MyFord Touch on the 2011 Edge crossover and MyLincoln Touch on the Lincoln MKX crossover. The magazine said the system is a distraction and often fails to work properly. It refused to recommend the new crossovers largely because of the MyFord Touch technology.