By on February 2, 2021

On Monday, Ford and Google jointly announced a strategic, six-year partnership to accelerate the automaker’s connected vehicle and data service programs. Framed as part of Ford’s natural evolution into an information focused mobility firm, the release was loaded with corporate buzz phrases that we had to clean up. But the gist is that Ford would like to leverage Google Cloud for its products, meaning all future Ford models will be running Android operating systems starting in 2023.

This clears a pathway for improved integration from Google Assistant, Maps, Play, or any third-party applications catering to the incredibly popular OS. Unfortunately, it also highlights how gaga automakers are getting about data for the umpteenth time.

For better or worse, automobiles will soon be open to all the perks and security headaches of a laptop or cellphone. Automakers have seen how much money and influence companies have been able to hoover up just by collecting and hoarding user data and are keen to get in on the action. While the information offers an incalculably large benefit to marketing teams and engineers, these changes are often conducted under the veil of supporting autonomous/electric vehicle development or simply as a way to “modernize the company.”

Unfortunately, modernization has become a suboptimal excuse for decisions that would register to some as a clear invasion of privacy. But we cannot say with any certainty that the deal penned with Google crosses any new lines. Ford explained the duo would be establishing a collaborative group, called Team Upshift, that’s designed to speed up its transition into becoming something other than an automaker — which is, ironically, what most other auto brands are doing right now. For example, BMW entered into an extremely similar arrangement with Amazon at the end of 2020.

From Ford:

To drive ongoing innovation, Ford and Google are establishing a new collaborative group, Team Upshift. Leveraging the talent and assets of both companies, Team Upshift will push the boundaries of Ford’s transformation, unlock personalized consumer experiences, and drive disruptive, data-driven opportunities. This may include projects ranging from developing new retail experiences when buying a vehicle, creating new ownership offers based on data, and more.

“As Ford continues the most profound transformation in our history with electrification, connectivity and self-driving, Google and Ford coming together establishes an innovation powerhouse truly able to deliver a superior experience for our customers and modernize our business,” said Jim Farley, President and CEO of Ford.

While Ford predictably discussed how the partnership would improve the artificial intelligence required for self-driving and upgrade future multimedia systems, the immediate get is access to Google’s analytics and data management services. That’s also likely to be the more lucrative aspect of the partnership as well. Blue Oval noted that the tech giant should help it “fast track the implementation of data-driven business models.” This could manifest as an early reminder that your car is due for its regularly scheduled maintenance or be utilized to feed you targeted advertisements synced between your vehicle and phone based on frequently visited locations. It all depends on what turns out to be the most profitable and what corporations think they can get away with.

But we also have to admit that it is likely to make Ford products more desirable going forward. Unless anti-trust laws finally catch up with Google or consumers collectively reject data-based services, people will probably remain married to its admittedly well-designed products. That means Ford’s future interface will probably be familiar to many and pair well with their preferred devices and software, giving it an edge in the showroom — regardless of whether it’s physical or virtual.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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36 Comments on “Going Android: Ford and Google Enter Six-year Data Partnership...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “unlock personalized consumer experiences, and drive disruptive, data-driven opportunities.”

    “be utilized to feed you targeted advertisements synced between your vehicle and phone based on frequently visited locations.”

    This is Hell.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      CD player head unit. “Phones” are perhaps the greatest pox currently on humanity.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        My very favorite way to listen to audio in a vehicle is from a USB thumb drive. (Load only the songs you like from your playlist or CD’s; download selected podcasts directly to the thumb drive.)

        If it is a 2-hour-long podcast for example, and I am taking 20 minute trips or making repeated stops, the experience is completely seamless, with the audio program picking up exactly where I left off with no intervention from me, no remembering to charge anything, no cords, no Bluetooth connectivity issues, no hands on anything but the audio controls in the vehicle. (Also works in the wilderness and in tunnels.)

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I’ve typically been a Ford guy. I’ve also not been one to shy away from in car technology. But to quote Mark Cuban on Shark Tank “And for this, I’m out”

          Enough is enough. I am paying you for the vehicle. Quit trying to make money off of what I do with it outside of me bringing it to you when I break it.

          Between this and the selling data to insurance companies, why not just replace the blue oval on the grill with the Electronic Arts logo if you are going to do these sorts of things.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        youtube.com/watch?v=s-kdRdzxdZQ

        My God, it’ll be beautiful.

  • avatar
    ajla

    FWIW I think a lot of people were misguided about the Kuniskis/Dodge article yesterday. Many comments were similar to “Lol, Teslas are very fast!” but thinking about a future where your car shows you Pizza Hut ads when stuck in traffic and is filled with micro-transactions is not appealing.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    We interrupt your personalized play list to bring you news of this unparalleled opportunity! Organic tomatoes are on sale for 40% off at Wholefoods coming up 200 yards on your right. Why not drop in and buy five pounds of the juiciest ripest tomatoes on sale anywhere? We know you love tomatoes so do yourself a flavor! Thanks for listening! And for now, we return you to your strange music choices.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Thanks… now I want tomatoes.

      There is a reason I’ve never installed nor used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. And only use Firefox or Safari as my browsers. Unfortunately my company issued me an Android phone which happily records and reports my location back to the Google hive mind. I’ve often wondered what would happen if I just left it on a charger at the local strip club during office hours.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Brave.

      • 0 avatar
        here4aSammich

        You need to check out the DuckDuckGo privacy browser. It blocks the 13 (yes 13) trackers that hit you when to surf to TTAC. facebook, 5 separate google trackers, comscore, OneSignal, sharethrough, and snapsort are all watching you. I use a second google account for my work phone with a different location and birthdate. At least the info Google is getting from the phone isn’t 100% accurate. Would be nice if TTAC would ask Ford if consumers will have the option to turn off th sharing of data. But I suspect we know the answer, and I’ll probably be banned for sharing how TTAC tracks us. Thank goodness for my burner email account and VPN.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    Google is going to give that data to Waymo. Waymo is going to make a better mousetrap and sell it back to Ford.

    Google will make money from pushing ads onto the headunit. Waymo will make money as a OEM supplier pushing AI driving hardware-software.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    …As if I needed another reason to not buy a Ford…

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Hahahahaha. Ford was already a dead brand to me for many things, but now… was nice to know you, ford. At least now I know that my next car will not be a Mustang

  • avatar
    Cicero

    “Be Evil” meets “Quality Used To Be Job One.” Perfect!

  • avatar
    Cicero

    Great. Expect your car not to start on the morning you need to drive to a pro-life rally.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Ford – who gave us flathead V8s and Thunderbirds and Mustangs and high-boy pickups and Raptors – devolving into an “information based mobility firm.” Whatever that means.

    I expect more and more of us to “go Cuban;” that is, keep our current vehicles running as long as possible in order to avoid joining the herd of electric robo-cars. Until the same folks that can turn on and turn off race riots as required manage to turn off the gasoline spigots.

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    Great. A chronically insecure platform, connected to the internet 24×7, sending your personal data back to Google and from there, infinitely more companies that you wouldn’t care to share this stuff with. I’m sure it will be possible to disable it, but the average driver won’t bother, and it will probably cripple some other semi-essential feature to turn off the data sharing.

    Qnx is currently the best platform for automotive infotainment systems IMHO.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Data Partnership – an arrangement where 2 or more parties bury deep in their terms of service agreement (in 4 point wingdings font) with end customers that their data doesn’t belong to the customer, that it can be bought and sold without customers explicit consent and that the customer has to bend over and take it.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the actual verbiage.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Check this. Lets say, in MA they have no toll booth system with EZ Pass or Pay By Mail. The agreement there is that they can’t use readings to measure your speed and sell this info to insurance companies. But who said that Google will not do that? WE know they will. They don’t have any obligations besides making more money.
    does any one have 2012-13 Mazda3 with non skyactive engine for sale?

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I avoid Google as much as is possible. They are sleazy, practicing “it is better to apologize than to ask permission”. They are a surveillance advertising company. Their business model is intrusive and despicable.
    My browser tracker blocker shows that a majority of all websites I visit have one or more Google monitoring modes. TTAC here has Google Analytics, Googlesyndication, and Googletagmanager, not to mention Facebook too. There are 6 other blocked trackers listed. I assume that TTAC is getting some sort of kickback from those companies.

    But welcome to the future.

    If I am to believe a RAV4 chat site, my 2020 RAV has GPS that is of no use to me, but it does send my location information to Toyota. There was a commentary thread on the chat site where a guy posted pictures and steps he took to disable that. He had to do some serious disassembly in the dash to access the circuitry.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I was vaguely curious about a full-sized Bronco in a couple years, but… Otherwise Ford have nothing that’s remotely appealing to me; I don’t desire nor do I need a truck, the Escape is plug ugly, I find the EcoSport hideous, and the Mustang isn’t something I’d care to deal with year round in Minnesota (I remember 4 years ago being stuck behind somebody who was driving a Camaro on an icy ramp for 35 minutes when he couldn’t gain traction uphill).

    I mean I know that Google already knows where I am since I have an Android, but dagburnit a spot of time away would be nice. I’ve been doing my best to pull away from the toxic cesspool that is social media because I needed a break from being connected all the time.

  • avatar

    Okay Boomers, world is changing. All Ford tries to do is to evolve to survive 21st century. The world is taken over by people who do not remember life before Internet. World tomorrow will be very different from world today. It is time to stop complaining and start adapting to the New World.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I’m 24 years too late to be a boomer and generally don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to development and progress. With that said, lately my experience with the Android has been less than stellar. Suffice it say, I hope pulling a fuse once in awhile will suffice to reset the system. I had to do that regularly with Mrs. Sync in my Focus SE (non-touchscreen).

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      Inside Looking Out,

      “It is time to stop complaining and start adapting to the New World.”

      Eff the New World. There’s nothing really new about it. The ruthless prey on the rest of us. And, then demand that we pay them tribute as if there was something wonderful about them. Same as for about forever.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Manufacturers of Android devices are terrible about updating their devices eventually rendering them obsolete.

    Anybody read Elon Musk’s arrogant comment about the touchscreens in Teslas? Screen goes out and you can’t even use the turn signals?

    “”Tesla said in a letter to federal regulators made public Tuesday that while it disagreed that the issue constituted a defect in the vehicles, it was going ahead with a recall to conclude the investigation and provide a better experience for customers.

    “It is economically, if not technologically, infeasible to expect that such components can or should be designed to last the vehicle’s entire useful life,” Tesla said in the letter.””

    Yep, Android will be a joy. A few years after purchasing your Ford nothing will work on the entertainment system because the apps will no longer run on Android 11 or whatever.

  • avatar
    Ralahamy

    Trying to catch up with Tesla?

  • avatar
    Ralahamy

    Trying to catch up with Tesla?

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