New Ford, Google deal means big tech upgrades for drivers: What to know

Ford Motor Co. and Google announced a strategic partnership on Monday that’s meant to more quickly modernize…

Ford Motor Co. and Google announced a strategic partnership on Monday that’s meant to more quickly modernize the 117-year-old automaker in unique ways and more aggressively use data to drive revenue and improve customer experience.

Jim Farley says technology will transform Ford Motor Co. and isn’t afraid of change

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Ford will start exploring this year the use of technology to provide oversight and quality control of factory robotics as well as additional training of UAW members on the plant floors, while Ford and Lincoln customers will start seeing new driver experiences in the 2023 calendar year.

What does this all mean? Ford and Lincoln drivers will have access to voice technology, like Google Assistant, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while multitasking. And Google Maps offers information on real-time traffic, automatic rerouting and lane guidance. With Google Play, drivers may access apps for listening to personalized music, podcasts and audiobooks in the vehicle.



a screenshot of a cell phone: There are lots of privacy options in the settings of your Google Assistant app.


© Reviewed / Sarah Kovac
There are lots of privacy options in the settings of your Google Assistant app.

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Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud CEO, and David McClelland, Ford vice president of Strategy and Partnerships, revealed the details in a virtual news conference. The effort is meant to enhance driver enjoyment and safety through connectivity.

This six-year collaboration involving Ford and Lincoln products globally is designed to “elevate the automotive industry and reinvent connected vehicle customer experiences,” Ford said.

The Dearborn automaker has named Google Cloud its provider for data, artificial intelligence and machine learning management. Millions of vehicles will be powered by Android with Google apps and services built in, Ford said in its release.

The company has created Team Upshift to “drive the ongoing innovation” and “push the boundaries of Ford’s transformation, unlock personalized consumer experiences, and drive disruptive, data-driven opportunities.”



a man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building: Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley stands in a room with Model T vehicles at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit on January 14, 2021. He is using technology to move the automaker into the future.


© Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press
Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley stands in a room with Model T vehicles at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit on January 14, 2021. He is using technology to move the automaker into the future.

Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, said in a news release, “As Ford continues the most profound transformation in our history with electrification, connectivity and self-driving, Google and Ford coming together establishes an innovation powerhouse truly able to deliver a superior experience for our customers and modernize our business.”

More: Ford makes come-from-behind push with Mach-E as industry enters new era

More: Google plans $17-million expansion in Michigan, to add jobs in Detroit and Ann Arbor

Silicon Valley recognizes the history of Ford.

“From the first moving assembly line to the latest driver-assist technology, Ford has set the pace of innovation for the automotive industry for nearly 120 years,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, in a statement. “We’re proud to partner to apply the best of Google’s AI, data analytics, compute and cloud platforms to help transform Ford’s business and build automotive technologies that keep people safe and connected on the road.”



Sundar Pichai wearing a suit and tie: Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, touted a new partnership with Ford Motor Co. on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. He is seen speaking to the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show, in Barcelona, Spain, in 2015.


© Manu Fernandez, AP
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, touted a new partnership with Ford Motor Co. on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. He is seen speaking to the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile phone trade show, in Barcelona, Spain, in 2015.

With Google Cloud, Ford said the company plans to:

  • Improve customer experience with technology and personalized services;
  • Accelerate product development, manufacturing and supply chain management
  • Speed up real-time customer notices for maintenance and other activity

Enhanced technology is intended to minimize driver distraction and provide vehicle improvements with over-the-air updates, now used by Tesla and a familiar process with cell phones.

More: GM, Cruise partner with Microsoft to speed up self-driving EV technology

More: Ford puts 4 properties on the selling block, 35 sites under review in Dearborn area

‘Obsessed’

“Android in the car also enables Ford and third-party developers to build apps that provide a constantly improving and ever-more-personalized ownership experience,” Ford said.

Farley said, “We are obsessed with creating must-have, distinctively Ford products and services. This integration will unleash our teams to innovate for Ford and Lincoln customers while seamlessly providing access to Google’s world-class apps and services.”

Crisis prevention

The future for all automakers involves partnerships with technology companies now because “data is king,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for AutoTrader.

“This is the future,” she said. “This is about data collection, storage and ultimately monetizing that data collection.”



a man wearing glasses: Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, is pictured here at the LA Auto Show in November 2018.


© Michelle Krebs
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, is pictured here at the LA Auto Show in November 2018.

In addition, Krebs said, the value of using data analysis for logistics support can’t be overstated. During a period when the industry is being hampered by a shortage in semiconductor chips used in vehicles, analysts see the supply chain is fragile and more data can only help.

“Maybe it can be used to protect against possible breaks in the supply chain,” Krebs said. “This global chip shortage is a serious thing.”

More: Parts shortage forces Ford to temporarily lay off thousands of UAW members

More: Analyst: Ford Bronco supply chain problem points to removable tops

More: Ford confirms more production cuts, UAW layoffs at Chicago and Ohio plants

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: New Ford, Google deal means big tech upgrades for drivers: What to know

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