Ford Motor Co. and Harman International Industries Inc. said Monday select Ford vehicles would be delivered next year with B&O Play audio systems to meet increasing consumer demand for affordable, quality sound systems.
The automaker has not said how many vehicles it plans to sell with the new systems or which particular models will roll out with the technology first -- only that it will be done globally.
A Ford statement said the exclusive partnership was born out of the understanding that a vehicle’s audio brand is an important factor in a customer’s purchase consideration.
The release specifically referred to the 2016 Ipsos U.S. Audio and Infotainment Brand Study in which about one-third of new-vehicle buyers said the vehicle’s audio brand has a significant impact on their purchase decision. The study also said if a vehicle has a top audio brand like Bang & Olufsen, up to 50 percent of the consumers said the audio brand may impact their decision.
Bill Wyman,Harman vice president of global car audio marketing, said the partnership is building on that demand with the understanding that customers want a quality music experience in every car ride.
“If you think about how the audio and consumer lifestyles fit together, it’s a daily part of everybody’s life and the expectation is, ‘I want great music wherever I go,’” Wyman told Automotive News. “That’s really a big part of this partnership and being able to deliver that music experience.”
Harman’s high-end Revel brand already partnered with Ford luxury brand Lincoln in December 2014. Wyman said sound quality is no longer “an exclusive sliver” of technology only a few people get a piece of.
Alan Norton, senior technical leader of automotive audio systems at Ford, said the automaker has been listening to the consumers, and they’re saying, “Give us the best audio system we can afford.”
Speaker placement and calibration will be customized to each vehicle model, the release said, which works toward maintaining the best possible sound throughout the vehicle. Or as Norton says, it’s a level of sound quality created “so you don’t have to twiddle the controls or have a disconnected experience.”
Since good sound is “the compromises people are prepared to make” when listening together, Norton said, the two companies thought about how each passenger would experience the music.
For example, Wyman said it’s important to consider vehicle shape and design in tailoring an aspect such as acoustics to reach each passenger with similar quality. Then no one in the car has to give a second thought to the audio system itself or fussing with controls.
He added: “The best audio system is the one you don’t hear.”