Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI, US) announced on Dec. 10 that it is investing an additional $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle solutions by 2020, including the new Focus Electric with all-new DC fast-charge capability, which delivers 80% charge in an estimated 30 minutes and projected 100-mile range
Ford is also adding 13 new electrified vehicles to its portfolio by 2020, when more than 40 percent of the company’s global nameplates will come in electrified versions. This represents Ford’s largest ever electrified vehicle investment in a five-year period.
The new Focus Electric, which starts production late next year, also will provide North American and European customers:
- SmartGauge with EcoGuide LCD Instrument Cluster, which offers a multitude of customizable displays that can help the driver see real-time EV power usage to help maximize vehicle efficiency
- Brake Coach, another smart feature that coaches the driver on how to use smooth braking to maximize the energy captured through the Regenerative Braking System. The more energy a driver captures through braking, the more energy is returned to the vehicle’s battery
- Funtodrive character, with agile steering and handling engineered into the vehicle to give drivers a more connected feel to the road
Ford also is reimagining how to set itself apart in the marketplace by focusing on the customer experience and not just the vehicle itself. The company is changing its product development process to support the shift.
“The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organizes that technology in a way that most excites and delights people,” says Raj Nair, executive vice president, Product Development. “By observing consumers, we can better understand which features and strengths users truly use and value and create even better experiences for them going forward.”
In addition to traditional market research, Ford is investing in social science-based research globally, observing how consumers interact with vehicles and gaining new insights into the cognitive, social, cultural, technological and economic nuances that affect product design.
“This new way of working brings together marketing, research, engineering and design in a new way to create meaningful user experiences, rather than individually developing technologies and features that need to be integrated into a final product,” Nair said. “We are using new insights from anthropologists, sociologists, economists, journalists and designers, along with traditional business techniques, to reimagine our product development process, create new experiences and make life better for millions of people.”
Another new twist to the product development process is that designers no longer just sketch products but also full customer experience illustrations that visualize the experience each product is meant to deliver. The series of vignettes define a unique user journey that seamlessly integrates both hardware and software experiences.
This user experience design technique also plays an important role in developing the Ford Smart Mobility plan, which is designed to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics.
“As both an auto and a mobility company, we at Ford are going further than just designing the product to move people from point A to point B,” Nair said. “We are considering the way customers interact with our vehicles as a unified experience, looking for ways to excite and delight customers and make their lives better.”