By on February 15, 2012

Ford is showing its fealty to the machines putting its money where its mouth is regarding telematics systems by unveiling their new B-MAX MPV at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, a week before the Geneva Auto Show begins.

The B-MAX is also expected to show off some of Ford’s newest in-car mobile technologies (which have not yet been announced to the press). Bill Ford, the company’s chairman, will deliver a keynote address on the future of mobility as well as the role that mobile technology will play in the automobile’s future. The move is not without precedent for Ford, as the company unveiled their Focus EV at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which overlapped with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Ford’s new habit of unveiling cars at electronics shows is something to look out for – don’t be surprised if other OEMs start copying the Blue Oval as they look for greater exposure for their new product. The car is not necessarily the star of an automaker’s lineup, and if major tech companies like Microsoft are on board, then launching a new car at a geek show, rather than an auto show, might be the way of the future for OEMs with major tech tie-ups – especially when their partner is launching a brand new mobile platform.

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16 Comments on “Ford B-Max To Debut At Consumer Electronics Show...”

  • avatar

    I’m old. I can remember when you bought a car for driving.

  • avatar

    When you drive these new Fords you begin to see how you are actually driving a computer on wheels. Is this a good thing? I don’t believe it can be stopped. The computers on board are automatically downloading upgrades while you drive and are positioned in the center of the IP with a screen larger than any other auto gage. It tells you where you are, where you are going, how to get there, where is the cheapest gasoline, the weather and road conditions, dialing your wireless phone, playing your iPod, displaying photos of your last vacation, it has become your car’s brain – and by extention – yours as well when you are in it.

    This is all cool and dandy, but human beings, sometimes get carnal and start demanding control now and then, especially when they are stressed. There may be a time when drivers will demand simpler cars, as we have seen in the past, but right now, with the glow of a technological happy future, it will be hard to stop buyers evolving with their cars in this direction.

    We saw the era of the Giant car, and discussed that yesterday. Perhaps we are entering the era of the Computer car and a few generations from today, guys at auto blogs will be rolling their eyes and wondering what the hell we were thinking about back then.

    • 0 avatar

      In the ‘surprise interview’ commercial for the Fusion Hybrid the lady specifically mentions the tech stuff and says “It’s like driving a computer”

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      I think it is farther gone than you do. My three 20 something children have no interest in cars. None of them owns one, and yes, they work and have good jobs. Many of their friends did not bother to get drivers licenses until they were 18.

      What I see in the future is cars that will be “driven” by computers and the urban street grid. They will be appliances. There will still be a car business, just as there is still a dishwasher business. And fashion and conspicuous consumption will still have a major role in marketing. But, horsepower, driving feel, and other gearhead concerns will no longer be of interest.

    • 0 avatar

      I usually agree with VanillaDude a scary amount of the time but then his wheels come off and I have to disagree. Human beings as a group are incredibly stupid and wish to be coddled. That is why the evolution of the automobile to include data as we’re seeing now is the inevitable future though maybe not in the Ford SYNC way. I see a more realistic future of our phones taking over the screen through bluetooth to supplant whatever the base OS is.

      The technology march is inevitable and unavoidable. It will not be curbed unless cost becomes an issue and we’ll sooner be giving up cars for that reason than electronics.

      • 0 avatar

        We don’t buy cars as a group, so I have hope that we will eventually see a backlash with these kinds of cars, just as we have seen with every kind of popular car over the past century.

        One day a decade or so from now someone is going to make it cool to have a vehicle with the simplicity of a Beetle, or a Rambler, or an old Civic, and it will catch on.

      • 0 avatar

        As an addendum to this: It’s not group buying so much as a powerful OS has become a status symbol and honestly luxury car nav/info systems still are horrible. iDrive has been a disaster for nearly a decade now and my friend’s Honda makes me cringe every time we go out together and he insists on using it. It looks like system was written well over a decade ago though his Accord is creeping up on 2-3 years old now.

        I’m honestly surprised with the power of Android phones the cost of an upgraded OS information center with a decent hard drive (a small 20GB spinning model or SSD preferably) hasn’t become standard issue on a car brand yet. Cadillac could really use it or Lincoln to differentiate themselves.

    • 0 avatar

      A car is tool, and the computer is tool for the tool. Humans will be fine (unless of course they get distracted).

  • avatar

    I grew up in the early 80s – we were branded that we would be growing up in the mature ‘Information Age’. They were right, and Ford set itself on a path 10 years ago partnering with Bill Gates to get ahead of the competiion with in-car infotainment. This will be huge. Commuting is boring, wasted time, and the market will reward cars that bring content into the experience while (somehow) maintaining safety. As a life long commuter, I am (for the first time) seriously interested in a Ford as it would improve the utility of my commute time -voice activated text/email/surfing. Really really cool – car as a ‘vehicle’ for apps.

    5 years ago you would have a hard time convincing me that there would be a huge surge in adult-use video games….re: Angry Birds. Literally everybody is doing it :)

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t agree with your assessment.

      The future of productive commuting is telecommuting, not working in your car. (Much the same as the future of the airplane is teleconferencing.)

      Also, adults playing video games is all about who they were as kids. By and large, if they played video games then, they play them now. If they didn’t play them then, they aren’t getting into them now.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. We’ve seen more and more large employers turning out the lights and sending employees home. It’s better for everyone. It has reversed what was an expected trend toward urbanization. Instead, the distant suburbs are seeing population surges.

        I’ve had no commute, long commutes and now a very short commute. I actually like my 3 mile commute best. I have a dedicated workspace without using any of my own resources. But for those with long drives, these cars have become mobile offices, just as the major trucks are for general contractors, plumbers etc. They all have laptops on the passenger seat.

  • avatar

    I have nothing against Ford, but if they insist on turning their cars into cell phones, I hope they fail miserably.

    Stupidity should be painful.

  • avatar

    I missed the days when cars was just a car, something you can appreciate just as it is. Not a gadget nor an entertainment device nor anything else. The day when a car was good enough when its reliable and safe and got air conditioning, while radio / tape / cd is a welcomed accessory.

  • avatar

    Some things like a GOOD sound system is a good thing, but when it’s fitted with apps and the ability to make it easier to tweet, text etc while driving, not so much.

    I like having Bluetooth in the car as I can get going and make a quick phone call to Mom or whomever, saying I’m on the road and will be there in XX time or to simply answer a call if necessary, but to just blather on the phone the entire run of the trip, not so much and being able to do it with a touch of a button and a microphone and speakers in a hands free manner makes that possible.

    I’m researching head units to replace an older Alpine CD head unit in my Mazda, which replaced the stock double DIN unit in 2006-07 or so (from researching my current model HU) because it only controls an iPod and I want USB/Aux and BT integrated into it. I also need Sub pre out at the very least, preferably with Sub volume capability as well as being able to play not just MP3, but WMA and/or AAC too as I’m looking to migrate to the USB memory stick for in the car use even though I’m not abandoning the CD format any time soon, just that in the car, I can have multiple CD’s on one device and not have to shuffle between CD’s while trying to drive.

    I enjoy driving so to me, little else is of concern, not even HD or Sat radio really intriques me as I barely listen to the radio as is in the car, just my music I’ve compiled onto CD’s.

    I like it best when my car emphasizes DRIVING over anything else. :-)

  • avatar

    I go to great lengths in buying cars/trucks that lack all of these lousy infotainment systems because I find them to be gimmicky, unreliable, and dangerous distractions. So far the Work Truck market has been a safe refuge for me. But this crap is worming its way into every aspect of automotive culture.

    With SYNC, Ford has essentially said: “Cars are now computers, all the computer crap is now standard, deal with it. Don’t want a computer car? You’re an idiot, go buy some other brand that isn’t as in touch with the social media influencers.” And while that may have been a safe bet in the past that others wouldn’t follow Ford into the computer intergration, the opposite has happened, and now car ads stress that the damn thing can geocache, access Facebook and Pandora, Twit, and read your damn text messages.

    I have long argued that we, as the American car buying public, are stupid and as more cars get computerized/integrated we feel lacking, inadequate, and left out if our cars don’t have this garbage so I actually see customers demanding all of these systems from manufacturers and foresee it will be standard across the board for ALL cars and trucks in the next few years.

  • avatar

    Are they actually going to call this the B-MAX? If so, I suggest the product naming geniuses take a vacation and clear their minds.

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