Mulally also unveiled a 2nd generation S-Max concept (Photo: Ford)
BERLIN -- Ford will bring more high-tech features to its cars as the US automaker adapts to the changing needs of the car buyer, CEO Alan Mulally said Friday.
In a keynote address at the IFA consumer electronics show here, Mulally stressed that Â Ford is more than a car company. "We also are a technology company and we are absolutely committed to leading the way with smart automotive technologies."
With technologies from other industries rapidly invading the automotive space, Mulally flew to Berlin to attend the IFA, Europe's biggest consumer electronics show. He was set to return to Dearborn headquarters Friday afternoon and wasn't planning to come to the Frankfurt auto show, which starts next week.
At IFA, Ford unveiled its EcoSport small SUV as well as a concept for the next-generation S-Max crossover vehicle. Both models will have the latest version of Ford's Sync voice-control technology, which will include the ability to manage smartphone apps through the car's HMI. The system is called Ford Sync AppLink.
Ford announced partnerships with several app developers, which are adapting their products so they will work in Ford vehicles. They include music-streaming service Spotify, hotel-booking group Hotels.com, and the Kaliki audio news stand. In addition, Deutsche Telekom, Germany's largest telecommunications service provider, is making available search and text-to-speech apps that will work with Ford's AppLink.
AppLink, which already is available on Ford vehicles in North America, will come to Europe with the EcoSport in early 2014. App makers, so far, have made 63 apps compatible with the Ford system, but the carmaker hopes to eventually host an entire universe of apps that can be controlled through AppLink. It already has created the Ford AppLink Mobile Applications Catalog, which is coming to Europe next year as well.
Ford's AppLink is an open-source technology that can in principle also be adopted by other car brands. Ford officials said some had expressed an interest, though none have so far decided to embrace the technology.
Mulally said he welcomed working with a growing range of partners. "This has been our vision from the start: to encourage, collaborate and partner with the development community to open new highways for all of our customers."
In unveiling the second-generation S-Max concept, Mulally stressed the role of new infotainment and advanced safety technologies. The concept
features a new car-to-car communication techology that uses Wifi to communicate and register a range of driving hazards. The S-Max also uses the Sync system for new health-related apps such as heart-rate monitoring and glucose level monitoring.And it has a fully independent parking assistance function
Said Mulally: "The vehicle is evidence of how Ford is working on smart technologies that are more intuitive, more connected and safer than we would have ever thought possible."
-By Arjen Bongard