Ford to Double-Down on Tech? Here Are Some Ideas

MyFord Touch II

Ford chief Alan Mulally says the expanding number of new gadgets and technologies in cars is actually bringing dealers and customers closer together. As vehicles become more like personal electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops, the relationship between car owners and their local service dealerships is likely to get more closely tied, he says. 

As pickups become more electronically sophisticated and the tools needed to troubleshoot and upgrade the trucks become more expensive and proprietary, you can bet technology will bring new vehicle customers and dealerships closer together. At a certain point, there won't be any other way find out what's going on inside all the computers.

The problem for Ford lately, however, is that a lot of that new technology is getting the automaker into some trouble with the likes of Consumer Reports' reliability survey that asks readers about their experiences with their vehicles. As new technology is rolled out, like the MyFord Touch system, it usually takes time for new owners to adjust, and the scores typically reflect that.

In a recent Automotive News article, Mulally said Ford will stay committed. In fact, the automaker is more likely to continue to add and improve its technology offerings. Mulally said Ford will likely head more in the direction of improved voice activation instead of the other two inputs: manual and touch-screen.

Whatever changes this might mean for the upcoming Super Duty or F-150 products, we like the idea of more advanced technology giving us more benefits, whether through readouts or just better power, fuel economy, versatility or safety. Here are five we'd like to see pretty quick. 

 

(No.1)

Scale readout II

With all the sensors and computer power in a new truck, why can't we get a simple readout of the load in the bed — basically, a scale? I've got a $20 one in my bathroom. Why can't we get a few pressure sensors in the bed mounts to tell us how much more weight we can safely pile in? It also might be a good idea of embossing each truck's gross vehicle weight rating on the dash. 

 

 (No. 2)

Tongue Weight 2 II

Along the same lines — but we'd guess much less technologically difficult — why can't we get an idiot light in the gauge cluster that identifies when my tongue weight is past the maximum factory recommendation (flashing red) or close to the maximum limits (flashing yellow) or within manufacturer specs (solid green)? Fine, if you don't want to give me the exact weight number, at least make a sensor that can give me a signal as to how smart and unsafe I'm towing.  

 

(No. 3)

Ram 1500 center stack II

We love what Ford and Ram are doing with their internet-connected truck-control units. The idea of turning your pickup into a smartphone so you can endlessly personalize your readouts and information priorities to support what you need to do with your pickup makes sense to us. We'd also like to be able to monitor and control our engine performance parameters to tweak mpg, peak torque and cylinder deactivation. 

 

(No. 4) 

Super Chief II

It seems like the time is right (or at least it's heading that way fast) for a hybrid-electric heavy-duty pickup truck. We constantly hear bragging about how someone's truck is as powerful as a locomotive, so why don't we put a big electric generator in one and release all that monster torque? Use the smaller turbo-diesel to create electricity for batteries if you still want to keep those. The time seems right for the Loco Super Chief. 

 

(No. 5)

Lego_truck_019_step90_engine II

No matter what direction we go with hybrid pickup trucks, it seems logical we're not going to need the system all the time. Is there some way to make the electric drive system "plug-in-able" so we can use it only when we know the situation requires it? Maybe the gas or diesel part of the powertrain is detachable? To be more efficient, we're going to have to get much smarter about exactly what heavy stuff we carry all the time to save weight. 

Just some thoughts. What are yours? 

 

Comments

I can see a time when our vehicles will automatically receive wireless software updates and diagnostic services. It will get tougher to modify one's vehicles and any abuse will be recorded.
Overload sensors could be used as a safety device. Sensors could disable your vehicle if overloaded. It has already been reported that systems like OnStar can be used to track you and even issued speeding tickets.

Why can't they come up with a (much) smaller version of those diesel/electric locomotive power plants? All the torque you'll ever need!

Diesel electric is a good start. Course so would the ability to program the truck like the Raptor.

User commanded functions for regeration of the DPF would help as well being able to see all the items that the PCM can see. Then allow us to choose which we wish to monitor...according to how we use the truck

The manual regeneration is already a feature built into ford diesels, as an option

I'd like a quality Hi-Fi audio option. Not some cr@p that is "branded" Sony for example.

120 volt outlets ought to be available on all trucks. I saw it on a dodge I test drove but I don't know about ford and chevy offering it.

They should also start offering LED lighting in the walls of the bed.

How about trucks become trucks again - let's get rid of all the unnecessary technology. Why not just have a 4x4 manual V8 diesel with a solid axle, long bed, dual tanks vinyl floors and bench seats? Less to break.

I like your scale and tongue load sensor ideas, but like all marginally useful gadgets, the cost-benefit breakdown looks like this:

- part adds $5-10 in hard costs, which is $15-$30 million when Ford sells 300k new F150s

- adding the part increases complexity, which in turn increases the odds that something will break...or that the new part will cause some unintended reaction in some other part, and then that part will break. Etc.

- if the part doesn't work right, Consumer Reports and JD Power say your vehicles suck

- consumers don't care that much about the part, so you can't really charge extra for it

SO...what we need is FEWER gadgets, not more. That will lower costs, lower frequency of failure, etc.

@Mike,

That's exactly what I have. In 2006 bought a brand new Dodge 2500 Cummins, 4x4, manual 6sp, rubber floors, crank windows, no added chrome trim, vinyl seats etc.

Only $32,000 out the door.

New car/truck buyers are drawn to gadgetry like flies on stink. Techy gadgets are tremendous profit centers for OEMs and obviously worth any negative press while problems get ironed out/updated. What old farts read those review rags anyways?

I think in 20 years we will be seeing a good number of plug in hybrid HDs. Basically just have a gas or diesel to act as a generator like the Chevy Volt and have that torque monster electric motor do all the work. Thats how alot of the heavy machinery works today, like those big CAT dozers and trains. The only obstacle is cost, but fuel savings and gov. incentives will justify that cost. Plus you can have that added benifit of having a useful generator to power equipment. Can you imagine plugging in a full size arc welder to your Superduty?

I remember when people used to say that power windows, power steering, automatic transmissions etc where unnecessary and would break.

In 20 years information/data collecting systems will be in everything we use.

Soon you won't be able to go to the car dealer for a warranty job and lie, because the vehicle will have all of the data recorded.

We more or less have that on aircraft right now.

The systems will become very reliable because what moving parts do they have.

@Mark William
Can you find out anything more about this rumor of the no spy shots seen 3rd Gen Tundra to debut at 2013 Chicago Auto Show? http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2012/11/14/2014-toyota-tundra-debut-chicago-auto-show/

Much thanks as always to Tundra HQ always on top of things.

Sorry about that Mark that should have said @ Mark Williams.

That Super Chief is SUPER UGLY. At least Ford is consistent with their designs. They are ALL FRIGGEN UGLY.

This all sounds like Mulally's wet dream.
Issue 1: OEMs are stodgy and too slow to meet consumer needs. Few are asking for more hp, torque, towhauling, and chrome grills yet that's what we're getting. Current pickups are already obsolete with respect to fuel economy. Poor fuel economy will continue to be a damper on sales.
Issue 2: Pickups are too expensive for the average consumer and more technology will only make it worse.
Issue 3: I don't want closer ties to stealerships.

Few are asking for more fuel economy either. Just over half the country voted for relying more on foreign oil and higher gas prices so obviously they don't care what they pay at the pump. Fuel economy and $1.80 a gallon be damned. Free obama phones, $6 a gallon gas, onstar nannies, bailouts, and solar panels are what people want.

@ joedirt,

DPF Manual regen is not avail accross all lines..only the XL XLT work trucks.

Unfortunately Dave is correct. People don't care about spending too much. Like Obama they don't believe in the constiution and don't set budgets. People who make $25-35,000 a year blow $48,000 on new pickups. They'll just take out an 80 month loan and "get r' done." Guts and glory as theyu say. More bling and more gadgets, iphones, ipads are what they sadly want. Fuel economy not so much. They don't want more hp? You haven't been paying attention. More ho and 1000 lbs torque is next. Just look at all the monkies that come out of the woodwork during the speed tests on this site. This is the sad truth. The OEM's are giving people what they want. The fuel econ budget minded work truck people are not the average. It is all about bling, gadgets and who can go the fastest or has the highest max tow, no matter if they actually buy that one model or not.

Exactly. In the HD shootout, the majority claimed GM was the "clear winner" eventhough Ford SD had the best fuel economy. People say they care about fuel economy but they really don't. Also, when fuel economy goes up, people just drive more. So they don't actually save anything, they don't save gas and they don't save money. Increasing fuel economy doesn't make trucks cheaper either. It adds thousands to the price.

As oxi said in the $30k shootout...

Fuel economy are for tiny cars!
Posted by: oxi | Sep 23, 2011 1:09:17 PM

Dave and Ken are spot on...

Unfortunately Dave is correct. People don't care about spending too much. Like Obama they don't believe in the constiution and don't set budgets. People who make $25-35,000 a year blow $48,000 on new pickups. They'll just take out an 80 month loan and "get r' done." Guts and glory as theyu say. More bling and more gadgets, iphones, ipads are what they sadly want. Fuel economy not so much. They don't want more hp? You haven't been paying attention. More ho and 1000 lbs torque is next. Just look at all the monkies that come out of the woodwork during the speed tests on this site. This is the sad truth. The OEM's are giving people what they want. The fuel econ budget minded work truck people are not the average. It is all about bling, gadgets and who can go the fastest or has the highest max tow, no matter if they actually buy that one model or not.

Posted by: Ken | Nov 15, 2012 8:06:09 AM

I said basically THE SAME THING a month or two ago and got blasted because of it. There are TOO MANY PEOPLE buying trucks with unecessary equipment that they CAN'T AFFORD. Give me a truck with basic equipment any day! Screw this Platinum, King Ranch, High Country, Laramie Longhorn CRAP!! People in this country are too concerned about their image and how they look rolling down the street in their fancy LOOK AT ME pickup trucks!!!

Bob, I agree. Everything thinsk people care what they look like going down the road. But they couldn't care less. Just buy a truck that is good looking and comfortable.

Let's get more work trucks out there that people can afford. I'm sick of looking on the lots and only finding short bed girlie man trucks with no hauling capacity for $50,000 and up.

Forget the gadgets that are going to be tied into packages and forced upon you thus raising the prices thousands and thousands each year.

Bring back the work trucks with long beds! When a basic XLT I build is in the mid $40k's you know there is a problem with pricing going on.

Stop adding to the price for the love of god!!!! No more gadgets that will break and cause everyone and CR a bunch of extra work and stress.

How many of you here want, need or desire any of this stuff?

How many of you want a smart phone to operate a truck? That's another $75+ a month add to the cost!

Answer honestly...

Bob & Dave, I couldn't have said it better. Get rid of onstar, smart phones, and all of those computer sensors that are driving up our costs. I don't know about you guys but I want my truck to work like a truck, not a personal electronic device.

Hey Bob, Sorry you got bashed for the same comments on unecessary gagets a moth ago. The problem is 75% of the people who voted for Obama are on food stamps living beyond their means and they love their gadgets. Some of them even post on this blog at pickuptrucks.com

Food Stamp Recipients Alone Would Have Accounted For 75% Of Obama's Total Vote...
http://cnsnews.com/blog/ron-meyer/if-every-food-stamp-recipient-voted-obama-it-would-account-75-his-total

Example of typical person who loves uneccessary gadgets she cannot afford...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio

@Lou, Denver Mike, and Big Al from Oz--My fear as well that these systems could be used against you as well. My wife wants all this stuff on her next vehicle but I can see the downside in that this is one more thing to monitor you with. Ford is still having trouble with My Sync and hopefully they will iron this out soon because with all the additional technologies to be added this could spell disaster. This is true for GM and other manufacturers as well. Big Brother, but what can we do?

Also I am willing to bet that more of the manufacturers will have recalls on all these added technologies and thus will receive lower quality ratings, especially from Consumer Reports. Vehicles have become so complex and will continue to be more so. It is a miracle that there are not even more problems.


BETTER GADJETS
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BETTER LOOKING TRUCKS
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RAM


Posted by: HEMI_4U | Nov 15, 2012 10:49:45 AM

Is Lou a Troll or criminal? UK law wrestles with social media

Submitted by Randy McCall on Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:55

For many they are the scourge of the internet, but rights campaigners in Britain are increasingly leaping to the defence of online "trolls" amid a string of criminal trials over tweets and Facebook posts.

Prosecutors are to revamp their approach to cases involving social media following an outcry over freedom of speech, after "offensive" online comments from BAD JOKES to homophobic insults (cue Lou) resulted in arrests and even jail!

http://www.cyberstalking.ca/en/news-commentary/trolls-or-criminals-uk-law-wrestles-social-media

@Michigan Bob @Dave--Agree, we are getting away from what the purpose of a pickup truck is. Soon you will have rolling massages installed in all the seats and a beverage fountain dispenser. I don't have a problem so much with offering these options as much as that the more these options become available the more all trucks will cost because these options will become standard and there will be no base trucks left. Soon 50k will be the starting price. Also I don't like every move that I make when I am driving in my truck to be monitored and to be saved for infinity.

I recently saw a Nissan commercial the other day advertising some new voice enabled feature that basically yells at you if you over inflate your tires- I’m not kidding. I imagine it must be annoying as hell to the driver. Some of us over inflate or under inflate for a reason. I don’t need to be monitored or babied. When I was younger the only thing we worried about was being distracted by the radio. Technology can make us stupid. I’m one of those who believe smartphones, laptops, tablets, and tv screens just don’t belong in a truck (or car.) Does anyone have any idea how many accidents are probably caused by people texting/surfing the web while driving? They say the distraction it causes is worse than if the driver was drunk. That’s the problem with drivers in America today, it’s they feel the need to be entertained while on the road. This generation has such a short attention span and does not understand how to focus on important tasks. If you are in a car, pay attention to your surroundings and just drive! Trucks are meant for getting to places, towing, hauling, and work.

At some point between 2014-2020, the Ford F-150 XLT will top $50k. Not too long ago that was what a loaded King Ranch went for.

@Michigan Bob, Dave, Jeff and Lou -

This is the internet age. Times are changing and you cannot adapt. You hate technology. Leave the advanced technology to the adults who want the trucks with best gadgets that are 100% better than everyone else. You guys can stay in the 1990's and keep your old outdated basic trucks. Let us have what we want. You have what you want. Simple enough!

@Dave - This isn't 2003 anymore. Prices have gone up. Try to keep up AND grab life by the horns!

The one automatic system I believe should be mandatory is auto adjusting headlights,and driving lights, when you put any weight in the bed of most Fords they sag so much that it blinds oncoming traffic.
I believe the diesel electric Idea will be the future configuration, a 4 wheel drive with 4 computer controled wheel motors. That is a great idea.
I am not bashing Ford just stating Facts which are lacking by some people.
Fact the US will produce more oil by 2020 than Saudi Arabia

Some good idea's, but for me I will keep buying the work truck model like I already have.

Give me a Silverado WT any day of the week. Ford can stuff their King Ranch and Platinum trucks.

@Michigan Bob, Dave, Jeff and Lou -

This is the internet age. Times are changing and you cannot adapt. You hate technology. Leave the advanced technology to the adults who want the trucks with best gadgets that are 100% better than everyone else. You guys can stay in the 1990's and keep your old outdated basic trucks. Let us have what we want. You have what you want. Simple enough!

Posted by: HEMI 4 U | Nov 15, 2012 1:17:34 PM

That's your perogative! Those of us that are sensible can drive our $400/month payment trucks and have some money left in the bank at the end of the month while you GADGET-MINDED people can take food off of the table for your kids because you are paying $800/month for your truck. It's that mindset that keeps the REPO man in business!

@Lou, Jeff S
I have been working with this kind of technology for over 20 years. It's nothing to be scared of, some of the conspiracy theorist on this site should live with oxi with his Taco in the Northwest Territories in Canada. Imagine that oxi the Canadian.

Everyone who drive a pickup in NA, the globe have mobile (cell) phones. You know what? Everytime the SMS or make a phone call, download or whatever else they can be tracked. So why cry about this technology.

This technolgy which has been creeping into automobiles since the 80s started out with the Apollo space program, yes. The Apollo program was the first to use digital maintenance codes to self test and record events.

The "monitoring" systems will only record an event not everything you do. We don't have the storage technology to record everything and never will as complexities of digital maintenance increases.

The "in house" entertainment aspect of a vehicle will really be up to the purchaser. I remember when my father lost his cool because I bought a radio-cassette for my first car in the 70s. He couldn't understand why I needed it, but low and behold he wanted on several years later to listen to Charlie Pride.

Back to the maintenance aspect of digital monitoring. You will have better maintenance with them, but its also how well the technician can decipher the information given. On the equipment I work on you can obtain octal data and break it down into binary and use it fault finding with schematics ie 0=off and 1=on. Very handy stuff.

It will help and hinder people with warranty claims. If someone is abusing their pickup or overloading them why should the manufacturer repair the vehicle for free. But on the other hand it can be used in a car accident if the information gathered is comprehensive.

If you have an accident it automatically registers a distress signal, or if you breakdown road side assistance is automatically contacted with what is wrong with your vehicle.

I think this is good stuff, but like I said the entertaiment aspect is up the the individual.

The only onboard electronic gizmo I want is a personal DVR security system. I want a system that records the jerks that cut me off, or break in, or steel my tailgate, or from the police trying to shake me down. It should have GPS, and record speed/time/controls so that we can protect ourselves from looters/thieves/moochers.

That, I would buy.

@Michigan Bob,

Guts
Glory
12 pioneering first to segment TECHNOLOGIES
that were never even before considered for a truck
RAM!

Please sure to visit ramtrucks.com so you, Bob, can see for yourself MORE GUTS, MORE GLORY, MORE RAM!

With a 16 cylinder engine, a diesel electric locomotive could pull 40 freight cars each weighing 30-40 tons. Certainly that sort of technology should be applied in cars & trucks, so a 3 or 4 cylinder engine can do the job.

Some how, I've been lumped into the anti-technology group. I'm all for it. I don't like some of the nanny or "big brother" aspects of it. I'd rather have my 2010 F150 than my 1990 F250.
To the anti-fancy truck crowd, it is all about choice and for the auto companies it is all about profit. A 60k loaded p/u isn't much more expensive to build than a work grade stripper for 30K.
Sales types try to upsell the fancier trucks all on the premise that it does not cost much more over the life of the loan. I bet a large percentage of the polulace falls for that. The whole sub-prime live beyond your means type of purchasing needs to come to an end. The problem is that if it wasn't for borrowed money the economies of most developed nations would be stagnant at virtually zero percent growth.

I am not anti-technology as well Lou. These Ram goat herders assume that anyone that does not agree with them is wrong. I use technology in my every day life, but when people pay more attention to texting and talking when they drive it is bad for everyone. I guess Hemi 4U thinks its ok to text in your truck while going thru a residential neighborhood with kids and dogs. Better yet do 50 or 60 down that residential street that has a posted speed of 25 mphg with you big 4 wheel drive and plow into someone's car and total it while having your young son and his dog sitting in the front seat not buckled in. This is what happened in front of my house a few weeks ago to my cleaning persons brand new Honda Accord. I guess Hemi 4 would like to ram someone with his Ram maybe take out a kid or someone's pet. Or how about relying on a GPS so much that you drive into a lake. I do think there will be some problems with this technology but it will get better with time, but the people using this technology will become the bigger problem. Also how much are you willing to pay for all the technology?

With technology come a responsibility of those who use it. A irresponsible person does not become more responsible behind the wheel, they just have more things to distract them. Also with technology you give more of your privacy up. These are legitimate concerns not proof that I am ani-technology. I use cell phone, computers, GPS, and all the other stuff so I doubt I would be classified as anti-technology. I have become anti-Ram due to goat herders such as Ram 4U and the other Hemi heads. I agree with Lou I think they are actually planted on this site to get truck owners so turned off to Ram that they would never buy a Ram.

I do find the Super Chief hybrid diesel interesting and appears to be a smart move for Ford. This looks very promising.

The one option I want are high pressure nitrogen charged shocks on the engine hood with remote electric release so I can launch the neighbors god damn cat that climbs all over it after it has been washed. Maybe if the hood lauches it high enough I can add a little lead to the cat with the shotgun on its way down before it lands in the neighbors yard.

In my opinion this should move to the top of the list for ideas.

NOW IF THEY CAN JUST GET THOSE FORDS TO STOP CATCHING ON FIRE AND KILLING THEIR SLEEPING OWNERS!!!



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