By on August 23, 2012

Aw Shucks!  - Ford Photo

Much as reviewers and consumers have embraced the products that Ford Motor Co. has introduced under Alan Mullaly’s leadership, as well as embracing Mr. Mullaly’s public image as the most competent auto executive currently in charge of a Detroit based car company, there has been almost uniform criticism outside of FoMoCo for the company’s headfirst plunge into digital infotainment and control.

Hooking up with Microsoft, Ford felt that it was beating the industry to the punch when they first introduced their Sync system, followed by the even more ambitious My Ford Touch interface and a comparable Lincoln branded system. Consumers, with a small c, have expressed frustration with the system, prompting Ford to allocate funds for dealer training on MFT, along with FoMoCo issuing needed software upgrades. “Consumers” with a capital C, as in Consumer Reports, has consistently panned Ford’s infotainment interface, first dinging them on reliability for user frustration with MFT and now saying that the system “stinks”. It’s possible that by trying to be ahead of the industry Ford went a bridge too far. Ironically, that decision might be traced back to the general in charge, everyone’s fair haired boy Al.

It might be a Yogi Berraism, but you can really see a lot just by looking. Bertel Schmitt’s posts on the Chief Engineers in charge of Toyota vehicle programs might give you a clue as to their role and status in Toyota City and the fact that it’s the Chief Engineers who are asked to stand up at new vehicle introductions hammers home the point. When Ford introduced My Ford Touch at the 2010 NAIAS, after the speeches were over journalists and photographers were swarming on the stage looking for quotes and photos. I noticed a young Ford engineer, one of the guys working on the My Ford Touch program. The fact that he was there on stage meant that he’d indeed had a significant role. It must have been a big day for him because his parents were there and I watched as he introduced them to his big boss, Mullaly. Mullaly appears to be a remarkable manager of people. When you talk to folks at Ford there’s a respect and loyalty you sense employees have for their boss. At this year’s NAIAS the Ford presser was held in the round, in Coba Arena, with three camera operators at floor level to cover all the angles. When Mullaly’s part of the event was over and he walked off stage, I saw him stop to thank one of the cameramen and pat him on the shoulder.

When talking to Ralph Gilles, I get the impression that he’d rather that Chrysler be independent of Fiat (it’s nothing he’s said, that’s just my impression) but I also have the feeling that he has a lot of respect for Sergio Marchionne. That’s not a vibe that I get off of GM personnel about Dan Akerson. While GM folks seem ambivalent or indifferent about their boss and while Chrysler folks indeed seem to be loyal to Sergio, at Ford they really, really like their boss. So it made sense when most of the reporters were done with their questions for that young engineer to want to introduce his parents to Mullaly. The parents beamed as Mullaly went on and on about what an important role their son had at Ford. Sure it was PR, but there was genuine enthusiasm in his voice. After that little human scene, I got a chance to ask the Ford CEO a question.

Before running Ford, Mullaly headed the Boeing corporation after first being in charge of their aerospace and defense operations. I asked him to compare the level of technology at Ford to what was used at Boeing, which uses many advanced and sophisticated technologies. Of couse Mullaly used the question as an opportunity to sell My Ford Touch, a main talking point that day. He said that at Boeing he was in charge of the design of the first all digital flight deck. Their job was to take a large amount of information and be able to present it to the pilots in a manner that made their jobs easier and safer, and that’s what Ford was trying to do with My Ford Touch. He may have been blowing smoke but there was, again, a boyish enthusiasm in his voice. I came away from that interaction understanding exactly why Ford has gone all in on MFT – the big boss likes it. He’s an engineer by training who has designed digital cockpits of jet airliners. Of course he’d like a digitally based techie driver infotainment system.

One thing Mr. Mullaly is credited with as a drastic improvement in the corporate culture at the Glass House in Dearborn has been getting rid of the political back-stabbing that resulted from fiefdoms in the company. Decisions since Mullaly took over have seemed to based on reason and logic, with One Ford being the primary example. It would be genuinely ironic, because Alan Mullaly indeed seems to be one of the more competent auto executives in memory, if engineers within Ford are reluctant to criticize My Ford Touch because it’s a pet project of their big boss.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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58 Comments on “Is Alan Mullaly to Blame for My Ford Touch’s Problems?...”

  • avatar

    What’s that quote re: I don’t care what you say about me as long as you spell my name right? Mulally.

    Also, he wasn’t in charge of Boeing’s defense operations; he was in charge of their commercial airplane division. Big difference. F-15s vs. 737s.

    Regarding MFT, I don’t know that it’s specifically Alan’s fault for embracing technology, but all the same I blame Bill Gates for all the lousy MSFT software.

    Sometimes, you know, the marketers are racing well ahead of the engineers.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry for the spelling error. In 1997 and 1998, Mulally ran Boeing’s Information, Space & Defense Systems.

      From Wiki:

      Mulally was hired by Boeing immediately out of college in 1969 as an engineer. He held a number of engineering and program management positions, making contributions to the Boeing 727, 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777 projects. He led the cockpit design team on the 757/767 project. Its revolutionary design featured the first all-digital flight deck in a commercial aircraft, the first two man crew for long range aircraft, and a common type rating for pilots on two different aircraft. He worked on the 777 program first as director of engineering and, from September 1992, as vice-president and general manager.[11]

      He was later named as Vice President of Engineering for the commercial airplane group. He is known and recognized for elevating Phil Condit’s “Working Together”-philosophy through and beyond the 777-program. In 1994, Mulally was promoted to senior vice president of Airplane Development and was in charge of all airplane development activities, flight test operations, certification, and government technical liaison. In 1997, Mulally became the president of the Information, Space & Defense Systems and senior vice president.[12] He held this position until 1998 when he was made president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Chief Executive Officer duties were added in 2001.[11]

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, hooking up with Microsoft was the real mistake.

      MSFT = My Stinky Ford Touch

      • 0 avatar

        Didn’t he ever used Windows software? If so then he would know what to expect from Microsloth. Not the kind of company you want to associate with, unless you can get a near monopoly on your product like GM back in the days…

      • 0 avatar

        You could always try a unix interface.

        grep engine_control_data_log | whatever_screen_you want ….

        edit: If they wanted a decent interface, they should have hooked up with Apple.

      • 0 avatar

        @chuckrs: The nit-picky nerd inside of me has awoken. The Unix command would really be “grep engine_control_data_log line_of_text_you_want engine_control_data_log”.

        And speaking of nerd stuff:

        In the 1990s we used to joke about what cars would be like if Microsoft helped make them…. Crashing and rebooting 2-3 times a day… incomprehensible errors and controls. Who would have thought that in 2012 we would actually have cars like that? This is a cliche joke coming to life!

      • 0 avatar

        @carloss – been a long time since I’ve used unix. I’m fully assimilated by the MSborg – my primary engineering FEA software runs on, and is most popular on, Windows – unless its graphics are screwed up by Aero themes or Windows indexing causes a disk write error.
        My newest car, a 2007, has a system bus – CANbus(?) – that is a real PITA to add things to. Fast forward 6 model years and I’m not happy with the level of complexity and features because I think most people can’t really handle it while driving – it’s only through the grace of G*d that we don’t have more accidents

  • avatar

    “One thing Mr. Mullaly is credited with as a drastic improvement in the corporate culture at the Glass House in Dearborn has been getting rid of the political back-stabbing that resulted from fiefdoms in the company.”

    Doesn’t Mark Fields still work there?

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Is it the idea or the execution that’s the problem with MFT? I suspect it’s the execution. CEO’s should be operating at the 30K foot level doing strategic planning. A good one would not get into the nitty gritty(aka micro managing) of how the system works.

  • avatar

    I get the distinct impression that Mullaly has a vision, and that Ford employees have bought into that vision.

    A part of that vision is of a techie world inside cars. Digital cockpit, computer assisted steering/handling, etc. Ford seems hell-bent on pushing down that path even if it ruins their cars & their reputation.

    I don’t dislike tech, but I do like simplicity. There is never a reason for a complex system when a simpler one does the job better. MFT is a complex system that offers no real (i.e., not “Gee-willikers, look at that!”) advantage over traditional systems yet offers many defects that traditional systems don’t have.

    Is Mullaly responsible for (meaning the cause of) MFT’s problems? No, I don’t think so. He is responsible for the direction, but the lack of technical capability of Ford’s engineers in this field of technology is the real reason for the problems. I once had a conversation with a Ford engineer who worked on MFT. She lacked fundamental understanding about user-interface & system design. She didn’t understand the real need behind infotainment, and so couldn’t be expected to produce a product that works well. That’s what the youtube commentary on the Fiskar’s infotainment system is about–it’s why Apple products sell well while competitors’ flounder.

    • 0 avatar

      MFT does do several things much better than traditional knob based systems.  Inputting navigation destinations on any system that doesn’t use a touch screen or voice input is a chore.  The touch screen also allows for much greater vehicle system configurability as it can be remapped to fit any device control with the touch of a button.  A configurable touch screen is also a benefit for downloadable applications that will be able to expand the base installed feature set.  

      I don’t buy the potential distraction argument.   It’s easy to set the climate before you leave the driveway, and radio station switching can be done with a single touch on the screen or a tap on the steering wheel mounted hard buttons (or even the voice controls which work very well). 

      The myth that the system requires deep menu diving to accomplish simple tasks is as damaging as it is false.  The system is only as complicated as you want to make it.  It’s capable of much more than competing systems and if you want to dig into that capability, yes, it can be complex.  However using the basic functions that most people are already used to is no harder on a MFT car than it is on a vehicle with physical controls, and takes no longer to do. 

      Also, Re: Apple, MS owns about 92% of the PC OS market while Apple owns about 7%. When it comes to smart phones Apple has about 37% compared to Android with 56%. Apple is successful and the products are popular, but they aren’t dominating any market other than tablets.

      • 0 avatar

        Nav is of no use to me. It is not an improvmenet.
        Vehicle configuration should not be performed through the center console. It is not an improvement.
        Downloadable aps should not be found in cars. It is not an improvement. In fact, I support caning for anyone who promotes such.

        Setting the climate before you leave the driveway sounds nice except that driving conditions change while you drive. Auto climate sounds great except that when you enter a hot car it instantly wigs out and goes full blast–hot air mind you–until it catches up. It is not an improvement.
        I have no problem with steering wheel controls, but the ones on the Focus are ergonimic nightmares.

        Radio switching on MFT *cannot* be done with a single press of the screen. It can only be done if you are already on the correct screen. If you are not there, then you must perform multiple touches. I have yet to see anyone get the voice commands to work “very well.” Even a Ford employee demonstration at their corporate offices was unable to do it without the system confusing the commands, timing out, or simply failing to register, and that was without ambient noise like passengers talking.

        All of Ford’s recent systems have more menus than my radio, and I am more than willing to have a contest to see who can complete basic tasks faster–you on your new Ford system or me on my oldschool system. I guarantee mine is faster. So, no, my claims are not false. The very fact that you have to first get to the correct screen is itself a menu. CR demonstrated on a Ford radio that it took 6 physical touches to manually tune the radio. Standing up for Ford is one thing, being in denial is something else.

        You’ve heard the one about three types of lies, right? Market share doesn’t tell you squat about which design philosophy is superior as much as it does which costs more. (Thanks, Wal-Mart economy.) But if you want statistics, why then is Apple’s market cap more that double microsoft’s when they have such as smaller piece of the market? (It’s also nearly 20x GM’s, nearly 3x GE’s, and 50% higher than Exxon.) The simple fact is that the market cap includes the value of their intellectual property and systems of doing business. People really think that what Apple has is valuable.

      • 0 avatar

        Nullo, nice post, until the last paragraph. I could point out that Chevy handily outsells BMW, but that doesn’t mean they have better product. Apple and BMW chase margin, not volume. More relevant is the fact that after 6+ years of development, the world’s largest software maker released Vista with a resounding thud. Clearly, MS has a problem getting it right the first time.

      • 0 avatar

        A general purpose, reconfigurable screen is excellent for allowing a great variety of rarely-used inputs. However, it is an ergonomic nightmare for frequently accessed controls compared to traditional buttons.

        The two do not have to be mutually exclusive, however. I would love to see Ford come out with a hybrid system that includes some frequently used controls as real buttons below the touchscreen (similar to many smart phones). Just some basics like temp up/down, fan speed up/down, etc.

        I was looking forward to the Focus ST as a replacement for my Mazda3 but it now appears that the trim level I would desire comes with MFT. Unfortunately, that is one lost sale for Ford.

      • 0 avatar

        Redav –

        Navigation is important to a lot of people, it’s one of the most common options that people tell me that they want when looking for a new car. As far as apps go, I don’t think people should be playing ‘Angry Birds’ on their car screen, but being able to download Pandora or Spotify to use through the factory head unit would be a major plus, as would be something like downloading a Yelp app so that could integrate into the factory navigation system. As mobile data speeds approach wired broadband speeds (and hopefully data cap rates go away in the future) being able to run a Netflix app that routes the video to screens for the second or third row passengers would also be a very cool feature. There’s a lot of room for innovation here in ways that wouldn’t create distraction hazards.

        There are buttons on the center console for climate control as well in all of the MFT vehicles, either haptic buttons like on the Edge and Explorer or actual physical knobs and buttons on the Focus, Escape, and upcoming F-Series trucks.

        For the radio the home screen on MFT shows your radio presets, which you can change with a single touch. There are also physical tune and seek buttons surrounding the physical volume control knob on every MFT vehicle with the Sony system, and physical or haptic tune and seek controls on the center console on the other models. The voice control for the radio is one of my favorite features though, it’s so much easier to say ‘Radio 101.9’ than to fiddle with traditional buttons or knobs. I have more experience using the system that most, but I find I get about a 90% accuracy rate as far as accepting voice commands the first time. Once you know the basic syntax and how to speak (which is just speaking naturally, trying to speak slowly or overenunciating screws it up) the voice commands are a huge convenience feature.

        If CR thinks trying to accomplish basic tasks on MFT is convoluted, it gives me even less faith in their ability to review any vehicle or technology product. If you know how to use it, it’s easy, either they’re being deliberately obtuse to help support their ‘outrage’ or the people they have testing these features have no business writing professionally about anything more advanced than a toaster.

        My comments regarding Apple were in response to your statement that Apple products sell well while competitors flounder. I like Apple, I have an iPhone that I like quite a bit, and I agree that they do have excellent user interfaces and tend to put out well designed products. My point was that the competition is in no way floundering – Apple’s way is one way, but the competition is doing very well, and in many cases winning over more buyers, doing things their way.

      • 0 avatar

        cugrad –

        The Focus with MFT has physical dedicated buttons for temp up/down (both driver and passenger) and fan speed (also volume, tune +/-, and seek/track+/-)

      • 0 avatar

        I rented a Ford edge and could not figure out the damm MY Touch, sorry but I need ten minutes to find out how to change the radio station it is to much, forget linking my cell to blue tooth, I will take buttons every time ( I had a teen with me who was also stumped) As for Apple they are leading the market in total market worth, they have customer who will pay a premium for their products and their products work very well.

      • 0 avatar

        @redav, I agree with you, most modern systems in the car are there more for entertainment purposes than actual functionality, and most of them are frustrating in their absolute lack of user friendliness. I sprang for the top infotainment package in my last vehicle purchase and have regretted the waste of money ever since. The $2000.00 nav system is virtually useless, takes forever to input information and restricts your choice of destination in its eagerness to guess where you want go. ( an update to the software also costs $200.00 on top of the thousands I spent) I now use a portable Garmin, the in – car system never gets touched. Designers need to fully develop the software before stuffing this crap into vehicles. I will most certainly be far more wary of anyone trying to push this crap at me in the future.

      • 0 avatar

        @redav, market value of a company fundamentally has little to do with their intellectual property — it’s based on the investors’ expectation of future profits. That’s it.

        Apple is highly profitable. Hence they have a very large market cap. Q.E.D.

      • 0 avatar

        Nullo –

        In the words of the great Homer Simpson…”WOOHOO!”

      • 0 avatar

        I had a new Escape (Kuga?) as a rental this week. I liked it a lot, it drove like a Focus (not surprising), and the turbo engine was quite responsive. Interior is good, too, for the segment, including seats and materials. And the gauges are far more professional-looking than those on the Fusion.

        But who designs the console and user interface? As someone else said, there is little you can do on the home screen, and yet that’s always where the system defaults to. There is still no feedback for touch so you don’t know whether you have hit a button or not. Pretty logos for the satellite channels, but if you want to see the name of the song, again you need to switch screens.

        The hard HVAC controls they have included now — tiny flat buttons with smooth edges for temperature? Very hard to grasp in the summer, surely much worse with gloves. And the hard radio controls are on a horizontal panel on top of the dash, facing the ceiling. Are people supposed to stand up in order to use these?

  • avatar

    “Hooking up with Microsoft”

    There’s your problem. When has Microsoft been ever able to put out a product that isn’t full of glitches, requires constant updates, and is a nightmare functionally?

    Should’ve partnered with Google or Apple.

    • 0 avatar

      microsoft did Sync, which works as well as you can expect for voice commands. MFT was *not* done with microsoft.

      Their horrible practice of releasing unfinished products has made us accept that it’s okay when things don’t work (crashes, reboots, fuse pulling, etc), and I hate them for that, but I will stand up for ms in this case & say that they did not directly cause the problems with MFT.

      • 0 avatar

        @ redav:

        Agree with all your comments, well said. Poor old NulloMondo does one hell of a job defending MFT, but he’s rowing upstream with an alder branch for a paddle, and it’s hard work.

        Google navigation is so good that when I asked for directions to work, it even tells me to turn left leaving my driveway, and then out of about 20 ways to get there, it picked my normal second choice. Amazing. All I need is a big car display that repeats what’s on my Android phone for phone, nav or music, and has the same touch keypad.

        Wouldn’t have to learn some arcane menu gibberish relevant only to a particular car company, because I know how to run the phone.

        Climate control needs only three knobs and a couple of buttons for the warm/cold butt, heated steering wheel, and a momentary screen override to see if my fumbling fingers have done the right thing. Engaging reverse overrides everything to show backup camera. Couple more buttons on the steering wheel, and you’re done.

        These bespoke car systems will be out of date in three years, so the manufacturers should have an open source screen, and let the experts do the electronics. Is Ford a car/truck company or a computer manufacturer? If the latter, would anyone buy an MFT phone? The mind reels.

        I think Mullaly wants to be hip, but doesn’t quite get it. Apparently a great guy, overpaid in the modern idiom, and the recipient of a well-written piece by Ronnie here. But he’d be even better if he got his troops to screw the cars themselves better together. Car and Driver had to assemble the rear door cards themselves in their latest Focus, their Escape was riddled with assembly errors and so on.

        I like the Focus, but find that Ford sales people seem disappointed when I inquire about one. They all want to sell King Ranch F150s for $50K a pop, and flogging an “economy” car doesn’t seem to fit their self-image or something. Not you, NulloMondo, of course, but you’re far away from me!

      • 0 avatar

        wmba –

        One of the big reasons that car screens don’t just mirror your phone is that there are so many different phones out there that compatibility would be a nightmare, plus there are still a lot of older customers who either don’t have smart phones or don’t know how to use them.

        Bluetooth is theoretically a standard, but any vehicle with bluetooth integration is going to have issues with certain phones. With Sync Pantech phones and Jitterbugs just don’t want to work correctly. I’ve had customers tell me that their previous BMW/Hyundai/Chevy/whatever never worked right with their phone, but Sync does. It’s a bit of a crapshoot. Trying to set up a system that integrates display data from a phone would be much more complex. Supporting the big two of iOS and Android would be a no-brainer, but what about the people using Windows Phone, Blackberry, Symbian, WebOS, PalmOS, or who have non-smart phones? There would have to be some fallback system to offer the same features to them, so if you’re going to have to design that, might as well make something that everyone can use. I think there would also be issues with resolution for mapping the phone display to the car display. Plenty of people are still using iPhone 3GS models which have a 480×320 display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. A Samsung Galaxy Note has a 1280×800 display with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

        There is some progress being made here – Ford is improving and developing Sync AppLink so that you can control more of your smartphone apps using the voice commands and touch screen controls without having to fiddle with your phone while driving. I believe Toyota is developing something similar as well.

        I think your idea has merit, and many people are more familiar with their phone’s layout and interface than they would be with a new car interface, but I don’t think that a phone taking over the car’s screen is quite ready for prime time yet.

    • 0 avatar

      Nostrathomas and the rest of Microsoft haters,
      I dont usually reply on forums, but as someone who knows the story of MFT a bit I would like to set the story straight here.
      Originally Ford did hook up with Microsoft and non-interface original Sync was truly co-developed with Microsoft.
      As far as MFT, Ford went to an independent software development firm that has lots of experience with embedded software systems after exclusivity agreement with Microsoft expired in November 2008 and developed MFT with them Yes, MFT is still sitting on top of original sync, but all of the GUI was developed outside Microsoft.

      Just to be fair. Now I have used MFT in rentals quitea bit and dont find it particularly distracting or difficult to use. I also hear that recent Ford updates have made it a lot more stable.

  • avatar

    I loves me some Mulally, but he screwed the pooch on MyTouch.

    1) Cars aren’t airplanes. If a driver looks away from the road for a few seconds, he can die. If allowed to, the pilot of a 737 could get up and take a bathroom break, leaving the plane to fly itself for a few minutes.

    2) Microsoft. What was he thinking?

  • avatar

    Yes. -Well, with an asterisk.
    It’s his fault of course, but I don’t blame him. (Do I?)
    He needed to elevate the brand with something. (Or a few somethings.)

    At the time it made perfect sense and he had to do it, and why wouldn’t it work? Why wouldn’t it be his pet project?

    They had decent products that were getting better, so a gimmick would be the cherry on top of Americas best cars. It was perfect.

    Smartphones were rare, but the big wave was coming, and There had to be something done – you know? So they did something – swung for the fences.

    What they thought was- that they had the best thing in the world. What it ended up as- was an abuse of the medium of the automobile, and now that everyone has smartphones anyway… Well, now what?

    The way I see it is that reality has moved beyond it.

    I see the fallout from this being a return to the conventional, Okay, people have these devices.
    Yeah, the devices can talk to the cars, and maybe give directions or play a song, but it will be transparent, and not in your face with glowing touchscreens and cackling synthesized voices.
    Elegance and simplicity and transparency will be the next thing. A car will be a car again, and you will be able to change the radio, or turn up the heat as it always was, and if you are in a strange place you can get easy directions, but you won’t have to micromanage two baulky computer systems to do it.

    The latest young kids on the leading edge of smartphones thought they were cool for a few years and then got sick of them, and now the surveys say they generally hate them, as well as the kids that are that age now and grew up with them. Ask anyone – they are a burden far too often. They don’t want talking cars – they want a cabin in the woods away from all that stuff. They aren’t playing electric guitars with a million effects pedals, or techno noise, but banjos and fiddles. Not all of them, but a good chunk.

    I would like to suggest that times are moving faster than Ford can keep up. They are only fueling the reactionary movement against it at this point. Surfing through 6 layers of menus to turn on the defroster or talking to your car seems to have a limited appeal to the middle aged crowd. The youngest and oldest seem to have a negative view of technology like this.

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately but it’s hard to capture it on paper all at once (Well, paper- you know what I mean.)
    Of course I am sympathetic to my own biases, but there are plenty of people like me out there who generally don’t go for this stuff.

    Similar idea with the dual clutch stuff. It’s time had come, generally they failed and now it’s not a good thing anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you need a big helping of in your post.

      Especially when it comes to “The latest young kids on the leading edge of smartphones thought they were cool for a few years and then got sick of them, and now the surveys say they generally hate them, as well as the kids that are that age now and grew up with them.”

      What surveys are this? I’m pretty sure the phone with the best consumer feedback is the iPhone. Android phones aren’t far behind. Last time I looked at my iPhone, it was a touchscreen phone. If you’re a techno luddite, then you are still clinging to your Motorola flip phone and scoffing at paying for “data” (nobody likes it, but you get hooked on it).

      • 0 avatar

        Helping of what? Lots of stuff surely. It’s no masterpiece.

        I can find these surveys if I wanted to dig around on the internet, and so can other readers, but you can’t do that on your I phone?

        And no, I don’t think as products people don’t like them- but in the bigger picture – what these things bring to their life in overall entirety. Add in a duplicate but worse system in a car and then what do you have?

        Number of touch screens in my life? 0
        Number of laptops? 0 (I saw in the 90’s that they would never be able to overcome their compromises.)

        I talk to people, not phones, so I hardly ever even turn the thing on.
        Having a flip phone matters that much in life? I don’t know how to get the massages off it, and whenever I try, they escape anyway.

        It has a habit of not ringing because someone put buttons on the side that shut the ringer off in your pocket. Genius. This is why I started just leaving it off.

        It’s nearly useless – why would I want more trouble with more “phone”?

        I have enough going on in my life. Someday I’ll get old and I’ll be even less tolerant of this stuff. Cars are for driving. This is why I said it was an abuse of the medium.

      • 0 avatar


        I’m curious. What exactly do you do for a living?

  • avatar

    What will be the market and value of used Fords with this complicated/unreliable system installed? I for one would not want to have to worry about the costs of repairing/replacing such a system. Obviously Ford forgot about this problem. Will they give extended warranties or buy backs for customers that bought these products??? I doubt it. Once the warranty is out, you are ‘stuck with it’.

  • avatar

    The whine is from everyone who expects computer speed innovation and refinement in something that has a 5 year design cycle. Major clash.

    Look it. MFT is about a GUI/DOS interface. Something like DOS Commander. Funky, practical at times but with severe limitations in both hardware and software and in design language. Just wait! Mac and Windows are coming! Remember tho… 5 year design cycle. It’s still a ways off. And it took them a while to really figure out a good GUI on the desktop.

    Ford is getting hit because they’ve gone the farthest in “bread and butter” segments. I will wager that they will also be the ones to get it right, first, as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Get it right first when? There is no finish line. The market is expecting continuous improvement and yes, we are looking for smartphone-like-speeds to innovation advances.

  • avatar

    As some have said above, separating idea from execution…

    I suspect the purists who prefer their cars are not entertainment systems (other than, steering wheel, brakes, throttle, clutch, shifter, etc) are going to lose / have lost this one. I can hardly pass 2 cars before I see a back seat video system these days. I myself have music on most of the time driving.

    In terms of execution, I don’t own a current Ford, have rented and test driven a fair number, was not impressed. But everyone stumbles figuring out device UIs. Even Apple. iPod and iPhone/iPad were right-before-sale, but they’ve gotten UI changes in MacOS wrong recently, and other snafus. It happens.

    I want a successful Ford (which includes entertainment functions for the masses) and which is also making fun to drive cars which last a while (which it seems to also be focused on doing). If it’s making money and doing both of those things, it can figure out getting the interface right.

    • 0 avatar

      Anyone that thinks Apple gets everything right has never owned a rev-a product. iceBook(video failures), iMac G5(busted caps) iPod(headphone jacks) iPhone(lost reception when you held it?!?) Al Powerbook G4(screen spots) iPod Touch(no speaker?!?!) are all known problematic machines.

      Once(was it 10.2.4?) they released an OS update that bricked my iBook(two logic boards during the AppleCare period, with one instance of the profuct being shipped back to me untouched, and still dead) battery! The iOS 2.0 update on iPod Touch(they released the device with no maps, youtube or anything– and I’m an early-adopter) killed the dang thing.

      Also– I’d rather not have to make an appointment to bring in my broken junk.

    • 0 avatar

      I should clarify something – my not impressed was with the gadget / entertainment, the cars were fine drivers for their classes of car.

  • avatar

    Can’t win them all!

    Pretty obvious why nobody likes Akerson.

    1) Revolving door
    2) Fundie

  • avatar

    As someone who is now so old enough that young women no longer notice….has anybody broke down the percentage of complaints by age group?

    Not having seen it, let alome used it;
    I suspect my 14 year old would have no problem with the system itself. However, there do appear to be some problems with using the system while in motion.

  • avatar

    As someone who is now so old enough that young women no longer notice….has anybody broke down the percentage of complaints by age group?

    Not having seen it, let alone used it;
    I suspect my 14-year-old would have no problem with the system itself. However, there do appear to be some problems with using the system while in motion.

  • avatar

    I looked at a Focus when I was car shopping, liked the outside look a lot ( and I am not a Ford fan) got inside and they lost me as a customer, way to much going on, bought a TDI wagon instead ( and yes in 40 k of driving no problems at all as a new car should) No nav needed have my garmin for that. No MY Touch or any other all in one tech device that will be worth nothing in a few years.

    • 0 avatar

      Just bought a 2012 Golf TDI wagon (aka Jetta Sportwagen) myself. I got the base car with DSG. The base car comes with 16″ rims (cheaper tires), and VW’s touchscreen radio. It’s a nice radio, easy to use without much thinking or taking your eyes off the road and easy to figure things out just by playing around with it if you’re unsure about how something is done.

      I had no interest in navigation or the giant glass roof because my TomTom or my phone do GPS well. And I didn’t want a giant glass roof that could potentially shatter or get stuck open on me. I didn’t look at any other makes aside from glancing through windows of different brands in the past few months on Sunday afternoons. I might have looked closer at other brands if they didn’t all look like Corollas and if someone else offered a diesel engine. But no diesel = no sale for me.

  • avatar

    DUMB DUMB DUMB, I mean users not My Touch, technology is outstripping a lots of folks ability. As an IT manager, I see this all the time. I have used My Touch in a Flex, an Edge, a Taurus and Explorer. The Explorer system locked up and the radio sucked. The other were the up-level SONY systems and they were great! After a few minutes using the systems is easy, I love gadgets though.

    • 0 avatar

      I would say “not an electronic technology aficionado” rather than dumb. This brings up a point I have made repeatedly – every new tech gizmo should have two settings:

      1. “Dummy” – for people who just want to turn the darn thing on
      an listen to the radio without reading a 400 page manual.
      2. “Geek” – for folks like swilliams41 who love tech, and are
      good at it. This would have every bell and whistle the system
      is capable of.

  • avatar

    We’re about to find out if Ford cut deep enough back in 2008/2009, and whether Mullaly is all he’s been acclaimed to be thus far.

    My literal bet is that they did not, and he is not.

    Ford is going to lose the most market share and see the biggest decline in top and bottom line revenue of any of the large, global automakers over the next year.

    Ford’s revised business model runs contrary to those of Volkswagen & Toyota, and everyone is about to see what a “price sensitive” economy TRULY looks like, and Ford is going to be at a distinct disadvantage in the new era.

    Hyundai proved the value proposition in this brave new world, and now Volkswagen and Toyota are running that model, and have only just begun to ratchet up the aggressiveness level.

    For those who claim maintaining margins and profitability versus maintaining market share is what counts, I’d suggest they never had to manage or help manage a business in a severe downturn. In a capital intense business such as auto manufacturing, with massive fixed overhead, the inability to maintain sales volume or sacrifice profitability is the ultimate toxin.

  • avatar

    I would agree that they over-reached in trying to make the “coolest” C class cars. But at same time, demanding tech savvy buyers want ‘driverless cars’ and to ‘text while driving’ so get MFT before its time.

    Meanwhile, the ‘uncool’ Civic is #1 compact, and will get high marks as a used car in a few years. The ‘uncoolness’ will be long forgotten then!

    • 0 avatar

      I doubt there are many 15 – 18 year olds on TTAC, but my daughter, who just turned 16, has her learner’s permit and it about to get her intermediate license – and all her friends – consider a Honda Civic very cool. Also, these kids have grown up with touch screen technology, and don’t consider it the latest thing, or cool.

  • avatar

    The first one to get Apple to do the user interface wins for the Infotainment system wins. Hell they are putting iPods in cars as the owners manual now. Just give me a dock for an iPod where the radio goeswith an app to interface with a radio and a Nav module. Hard to imagine you could get more user friendly than the ios interface and it would be second nature to the younger kids. Seriously, an IOS powered interface in the car would be cool IMHO.

  • avatar

    I was watching Jeremy Clarkson on a rerun of Top Gear the other night have a melt down at the endless complexity of a BMW M5. The saving grace was that there was the “M” button that turned the car into more fun than a couple Viagra’s and a half dozen horny coeds. I doubt the Focus or Fusion or any FoMoCo has that little back up plan, but then this is apples to bananas. I think most of the target market for Focus/Fusion would love a simpler system with NAV optional and back up camera standard. I know I would. Untill I can get a “KITT” system like Hasselhoff had, I would rather keep it as simple as possible.

  • avatar

    Ford’s touch system is Reason number two that I turned down a Ford focus for my family driver. Reason number one was the lame engine. ST or not, it is a deal-breaker. It was that aggravating during the test drive.

    The VW system is ditzy but acceptable.

    The best thing any car company can do right now is implement support for Siri. Just change the voice command system to trigger Siri when paired with an iPhone. That’s it.

  • avatar

    We had a Focus Titanium hatch prior to our Taurus SHO, and one of the reasons the Focus had to go, besides the buggy transmission, was MFT. It crashed often, leaving my wife with no audio whatsoever, and leaving my ears full of her complaining, and rightfully so. Out with the Focus, in with the Taurus and she’s much happier, as am I.

    Her Taurus SHO and my F-150 Platinum have the Sony system that Ford used prior to MFT. It’s not as “pretty”, but I’ll be damned if it’s not a lot more functional without crashes or issues. One of the reasons I didn’t want for the 2013 F-150 with the updates was because I knew MFT was coming across the board, so I got the ’12 model while I could.

    The Sony system was fine. If they would have just made that interface a little more slick and branded it as MFT, I would have been fine with that. I’m 28, have an Information Systems Degree and even I find MFT to be a terrible system to use. I don’t like laggy software, buried menus for simple functions and I don’t want to be forced to use voice control for everything. Contrary to what Ford and many other companies think, a lot of consumers don’t like talking to their cars for certain functions. It makes you feel silly IMO.

    I’ve owned 7 Fords between my wife and I over the past decade and I’m a stockholder as well. I love the company and appreciate the direction they’re going. However, some course correction is needed, and it should come from a mature IT professional who isn’t caught up in making simple sh*t complicated for the average Joe just because it’s easy to them.

  • avatar

    I dont know the details of MFT, but its a functional failure IMO if they didn’t separate basic stuff (volume, source, HVAC controls) from the technofluff

    There’s nothing wrong with an analog volume knob or some direct easily accessible HVAC switchgear. I get the big touch screen for complex stuff like navigation, but not simple essential stuff like changing the radio station.

  • avatar

    “Much as reviewers and consumers have embraced the products that Ford Motor Co. has introduced under Alan Mullaly’s leadership, as well as embracing Mr. Mullaly’s public image as the most competent auto executive currently in charge of a Detroit based car company”

    HA!..Now that’s funny!

    And yes, of course he is to blame. He is responsible for everything Ford does. He is responsible for the terrible new Focus….with the defective PowerShift tranny, he is responsible for the Fiesta that has had lackluster sales and the same defective transmission, he is responsible for the problematic new Escape, etc.

    With all of the recalls/problems/poor launches lately, one really wonders how “competent” Big Al really is…

  • avatar

    Overall, I like Alan Mullaly and where he’s taking Ford. But My Ford Touch is a sign of a guy who hasn’t yet grasped the essential difference between a Taurus and a 787. Namely, air traffic control hasn’t cleared the next 500 miles at your altitude for you. Drivers have to keep their eyes on the road. Haptic feedback would help. Big round buttons and knobs would be better. Alan, think Cessna 152, not Dreamliner.

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