Print 34 comment(s) - last by Gungel.. on Jun 22 at 6:12 PM

Ford may fall even further in important ranking

Ford learned a valuable lesson last year when it equipped hundreds of thousands of Ford and Lincoln vehicles with versions of the MyFord Touch system for controlling entertainment and climate systems inside the vehicle. The problem was that the interface was cumbersome and difficult to navigate leaving many users confused and distracted while driving.

The complicated nature of the system led to Ford taking a beating in the important J.D. Power Initial Quality Study rankings in 2011. In 2011, Ford plummeted from seventh place to 23rd place in the Initial Quality Survey rankings simply because of MyFord Touch.

Ford started working immediately to make the system better, promising a major update that would make the system easier to use and simplify the screens. The bad news for Ford was that the update didn't land until March. The cutoff for the system be considered for this year's Initial Quality Study rankings was February.

"We expect to do about the same or a little better than last year," said Bernie Fowler, Ford's vice president of global quality. 
"Technology is one of the main reasons why people see us differently now today than they did just a few years ago," Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president for global marketing, sales and service, said to reporters Tuesday.
Despite the huge dip in rankings based on the technology, Ford remains committed to adding technology in automobiles and its MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch systems.
"They certainly have made some improvements," said Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs, who reported problems getting the voice-recognition system to locate certain cities. "Whether they've gone far enough remains to be seen."
Ford sent out upgrades to the system to owners of vehicles equipped with the optional hardware on a USB flash drive. The drivers plug that flash drive into the USB port inside the vehicle to apply the software update. According to Ford, 90% of the 377,000 vehicle owners who receive the software update have installed it, and 70% of those people installed the software without assistance from a dealership.

The official J.D. Power rankings will be released later today. 

Updated @ 2:07pm
The official rankings are out and Ford dropped from 23rd place down to 27th place -- worse than Ford predicted.

Sources: Detroit News, Inside Line, J.D. Power

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RE: Time to wake up
By Brandon Hill on 6/20/2012 11:47:30 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is that a touch screen in a car will never be as intuitive or as user-friendly as buttons and knobs.

In my car, I can easily reach out my right hand and adjust the climate control or radio controls because they are physical buttons/knobs, and my hands can easily rest on them to operate. In addition, your brain remembers where those physical controls are most can navigate/push without taking their eyes off the road.

My car also has a touch screen for the GPS/radio/XM, etc, but all of those controls can be more readily accessed using the center stack or steering wheel.

With a touch screen, no matter what control you are aiming for, you will always have to take your eyes off the road to press...ALWAYS... unless you use some form of voice recognition.

But even that is more convoluted than simply reaching out and touching a knob/button.

RE: Time to wake up
By Jaybus on 6/20/2012 1:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the touch screen mimics buttons and sliders and such, so aren't that hard to figure out. The problem is tactile feedback. Also, like a smart phone, it cannot be seen in bright sunlight.

The bad news is that the LCD screen and lack of tactile feedback in a touch screen have forced me to get used to voice commands. The good news is that the Sync voice commands work really well once you learn the syntax, and assuming you bother to go through the voice training to let it learn your voice.

RE: Time to wake up
By Brandon Hill on 6/20/2012 1:44:43 PM , Rating: 4
By the time you use the proper syntax and prompts to change the temperature, I've already turned the knob 1/4 turn in my car to get the proper temperature ;)

I just think it's stupid to go down this route with automobiles where driving should be your primary focus. A smartphone or tablet is primarily visual-based, so you've always got your eyes glued to the screen. This is not the case with a car where you eyes need to be on the road as much as possible. So the whole touch screen fad just fails here ergonomically IMHO.

Voice recognition is the crutch to fix the problem, but the "problem" shouldn't be there in the first place.

RE: Time to wake up
By JediJeb on 6/20/2012 6:31:05 PM , Rating: 2
Also I wonder how much a touch screen/voice system will be to fix or replace later on when it breaks? Replacing a knob that falls off should be much cheaper. Also just as in my current vehicle it is 16 years old, how well will this system be supported after that much time? Windows XP is what, a little over 10 years old and you can't purchase it anymore, and if your computer is too slow you can't just upgrade to W7(say you have a computer from 1996 like my truck is). Will quickly advancing computer systems make even 10 year old car's touch screen systems so obsolete that you will find it difficult to repair or upgrade?

These could end up being like the equipment in our lab where the machines far outlast the computers attached to them. When all of your controls fail will you end up having to purchase a new car instead of just a button and switch so you can turn on the heater?

RE: Time to wake up
By Targon on 6/21/2012 12:58:01 PM , Rating: 2
The auto industry has been around for over 100 years now, and as a result, you saw very little innovation prior to around ten years ago. The PC industry has only been around since the late 1970s, but it had taken until the mid 1990s before your average home would have a computer in it.

The element that is currently being focused on is voice recognition and syntax for things like voice commands, and that is the thing that most people have issues with. In general, you don't want to be touching ANY controls for the entertainment system or climate controls, since that means you will be taking your attention away from driving.

One thing that isn't standard are interfaces for various components, and that is a valid concern for future part replacements, but considering how quickly things have been changing, this is to be expected. On the positive side, now that we are moving to these systems being software based, advances can come MUCH faster than previous systems. LCD screens(even without touch screen controls) means that backup cameras and basic navigation(a map that shows where you are, even if you don't have a touch screen) will become standard features in the future.

With all of this going on, things like making almost all features as "modules" means that features CAN be added after a vehicle is sold, and replacing parts in a modular system will be far easier than the old days of needing all those mechanical parts. This may take another decade, but it will happen.

Now, on a different note, the evolution of computers has been so much faster than cars, it makes sense that you wouldn't BUY a new copy of Windows XP at this point, because you already own it. You can't buy a new Dodge Dart anymore either, do you complain that they don't sell them anymore when newer and better cars have come out over the years? Why would you WANT to use an old single-core processor based machine at this point, except to run legacy software? Clinging to the past is the reason why many can't handle what the world CURRENTLY is like, let alone what it will be like in another ten years. Don't cling to the past, embrace change, and you can then handle ANYTHING that life throws at you.

RE: Time to wake up
By Belard on 6/22/2012 9:08:41 AM , Rating: 2
Or... you could have put your finger on a cheap knob, dial, slider or button to adjust whatever needs adjusting.

Like the rear AC for my cross-over, I can feel if its off, I can count the clicks from 0~5 to know what its doing.

With a touch screen, you have to aim your finger at the mode, then adjust it exactly.. if you slip or go to far, you may turn something else ON or OFF.

- hence, I would LOVE to buy a SMART phone with PHYSICAL MAIN BUTTONS (Home / Back / Search)

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