As of ten months ago, Mercedes and Ford Motor Co. launched the FordPass app which the company claims to have been a learning experience. The application, which is available in both Canada and the United States, has forced the automotive developer to alter their way of thinking into that of a technology start-up company. Developed over 18 months and updated every 30 days with new tweaks, patches, or new features (some of which have since fallen through), the app is currently limited to only three of Ford’s vehicles –the Fusion, the Escapee, and the F-150. While some aspects have been considered a flop, this branch into automotive tech has made the Ford Motor Co. a bit of a pioneer, both generating interest in and conversation about the brand while laying the ground work for a new stream of revenue.
According to Elena Ford, vice president, global dealer and consumer experience, the company is “very optimistic” after only a year on the market, stating that they have “launched a global app that’s a one-stop shop for customers.” The application enables users to remotely unlock and start their cars, find and pay for parking, check fuel levels, schedule their vehicles to start at a specific time automatically, contact their dealer, schedule maintenance, and more.
While Ford has gone on record stating that the FordPass app could be their “most revolutionary [platform] yet”, some have not been so sure. Sam Abuelsamid, senior research analyst at Navigant Research has stated that “It definitely has a lot of potential, and we’re going to see similar apps and services from other OEMs … But the potential that was built in there has not been realized yet because the partners really aren’t in place.” One such example is the possible rewards program that the company suggested upon the app’s launch in which they would partner with companies such as McDonald’s or 7-Eleven so that Ford customers could collect points and redeem them for merchandise and experiences. Instead of providing what they hoped for, however, FordPass instead has a virtual rewards program which gives customers badges. FordPass was also supposed to partner with FlightCar to permit travelling customers to park near an airport free of charge and to rent out their vehicle to other drivers while away. However, as FlightCar went out of business shortly after the app launched, the plans were quickly cancelled.
One of the big problems with the Ford application is that some drivers will need multiple apps in order to acquire all services needed. Recently, the company integrated its previously separate Ford Credit app into FordPass and offers a FordPay virtual wallet to pay for services within the app. Nonetheless, the automaker still needs to work with other programs like Chariot in order to provide the best service it can to Ford customers.