By on February 11, 2013

In the world of dealer standards, it is usually the OEMs that write the standards, and it is the dealers who have to pay the usually steep bills. Occasionally, an OEM even is tempted to recoup the steep cost of developing a new corporate identity by marking up the signage sold to its dealers.  Dealers hate it. Ford is doing something dealers will love: Ford will offer dollar-for-dollar matching funds to its 3,100 U.S. dealers to upgrade their shops, from new construction to improved digital programs, Ford executives told Reuters.

The bulk of the money will not go to bricks and mortars, but to “enhance customer digital experiences. Much of it will be spent to help customers use tablet computers to liaise with dealerships,” Reuters writes.

Ford’s Jim Farley did not want to say how much the program will cost. “If all 3,100 dealers enroll and sign letters of intent in 2013 to make the upgrades, it could cost Ford as much as $2.33 billion in matching funds,” Reuters calculated.


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14 Comments on “Ford To Improve Digital Dealer Experience With A Lot Of Money...”

  • avatar

    It Seems that this iPad-driven feature will let customers access information only about those cars that are sitting on a given dealer’s lot. Not more useful than walking around.

  • avatar

    Completely pointless.

    Ford should be focusing on getting the fusion trim level from Lincoln into the hands of the pissed customers that have been waiting far too long for their appliance. Also, they need to get the quality out of the gutter, recalls under control and figure out how to make their vehicles interesting and something people actually want to buy.

    But no, Ford wants my iPad to work at the dealer. Brilliant.

    • 0 avatar

      Why would anyone be pissed? There are no shortage of alternatives. I find it hard to believe that anyone is awaiting the MKZ breathlessly.

      The whole thing seems like a waste of money to me. How about less fancy dealerships with cheap servicing prices?

      • 0 avatar

        How about an infotainment system that people can actually use?

      • 0 avatar

        Rhodes, there are people that actually paid money for these tarted up Fusions.

        I completely agree that people who are just looking at it will go somewhere else, as they should because these delays are unacceptable and the car isn’t that good…far outclassed by even Buicks.

        It’s the ones Lincoln is now buying dinner for because their tarted up Fusion is delayed.

    • 0 avatar

      Completely awesome.

      Ford is laser focused on getting the fusion trim level from Lincoln into the hands of the excited customers who have been waiting patiently for their vehicle. Also, they need to continue to do a great job keeping quality at a high level, issue as many recalls as necessary to support excellence customer care and keep their vehicles interesting so that people will continue to buy.

      And yes, Ford wants my iPad to work at the dealer. Brilliant!

      • 0 avatar

        WOO HOO!!! Another person that will follow me around like a dog because they don’t like the truth.

        Anyway, it’s nice to see you support recalls. I support doing it right the first time, but you would rather them go cheap the first time, and then get caught with their pants down and lose customers.

        Quality is NOT at a high level…as there have been many issues with Ford vehicles…both acknowledged and not acknowledged by Ford in recent years. Even the new Fusion has customers complaining of mis-aligned body panels etc.

        And, BTW, your avatar really fits your comments.

  • avatar

    I wish they spent a bit of money fixing the Sync system. Did you know that you can’t download the current update to the Sync system (which it needs due to problems with the bluetooth system being jacked up) with ANY current generation browser, including Internet Explorer 9?

    So you can’t download the update to your malfunctioning Microsoft product using the Microsoft browser on a Microsoft OS?

    It’s a long chain of fail, and having had to deal with the Sync system myself lately, I guarantee it’s the source of a great deal of Ford’s recent problems with reliability ratings.

    • 0 avatar

      sync is such a bag of hurt. totally ruins an otherwise brilliant car (focus st). ford needs to exit the computer business and take micro$£op with them ….

      • 0 avatar

        Sync is great – it was hands down the best bluetooth/MP3 player integration system on the market when it launched, and is one of the big reasons all other automakers suddenly had to develop similar systems to keep up.

        MFT, which is the next-gen touchscreen system built on top of Sync has had big problems, came out half baked, and has arguably been more trouble than it was worth. Still, it’s one of the most capable, if not the most capable, system of its type on the market. The conversation to have would be whether it’s better to have ultimate capability or a more simple learning curve for non-techy people.

        On the plus side, MFT is far, far, better today than it was when it came out, and though there are still some isolated stability issues, it isn’t a reason to avoid a vehicle. The nice thing is that Ford has pushed updates to all current owners on a fairly consistent basis, so even first-run vehicle owners with the system haven’t been left in the cold.

        It could be a lot better, and a clean-sheet redesign may be whats needed. MS isn’t a bad partner to have. I’d love to see a next-gen MFT system that adopts the new Windows Phone 8 (or just Windows 8) ‘Metro’ design aesthetic. Configurable live tiles that update on the fly and offer simple easily hit system navigation points would make the system both more responsive, easier to use while driving, and more functional. Play around with a Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X, or Microsoft Surface and imagine that OS and design language translated into something automotive focused and it’s easy to see how good it could be.

      • 0 avatar

        How long does MFT have to be on the market & rated inferior to just about every other manufacturer’s system for it to no longer be considered “next generation”?

        At best, it should be called “current generation” and quite possibly “last generation.”

  • avatar

    Here’s a better digital idea for Ford (and many other manufacturer websites, including Hyundai): if you’re offering inventory search on your site provided from a “Build Your Own Car” feature, actually filter the returned inventory based on the USER’S FRIGGIN’ INPUT! If I want my car to have a stick, DON’T show me all the slushboxes! UX (user experience) 101!


  • avatar

    Do that many people really walk into a dealer and say “I’d like a vehicle with X feature, doesn’t matter the size or price. Whaddaya got on the lot that I can drive away. I’m uninterested in waiting 2 days for a dealer trade”? I know the sync feature originally had people seeking it out, but that’s probably played out now.

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