When it comes to innovation, Ford’s in Fast Company . In fact, Ford was the only full-line automaker to earn a place on Fast Company magazine’s 2013 list of Most Innovative Companies . The annual rankings honor “the businesses whose innovations are having the greatest impacts across their industries and our culture as a whole,” and will be reported in the magazine’s March issue. Singled out for praise by Fast Company ’s Chuck Salter were both currently deployed Ford innovation highlights—like a new research and development facility in Silicon Valley, the automaker’s signature SYNC connectivity/infotainment system, and a wealth of driver-assistance measures such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology—and future efforts like a “workload estimator” that can block incoming calls and texts if it detects stressful driving situations. And as Salter points out: “Customers seem to be responding. Third-quarter pretax earnings in 2012 were a record $2.2 billion, and over half of Ford owners cite the connectivity system as a big reason for their purchase.” Of course, another important reason for Ford’s success is its expertise in powertrain technology. The 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine that will debut in the 2014 Ford Fiesta , for example, was recognized with both a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics and Germany’s International Paul Pietsch Award for technological innovation. “We are very proud that we have won this prestigious award recognizing Ford’s commitment to sustainability,” said Bernhard Mattes, chairman of Ford of Germany, who was on hand to accept the award. “Sustainability is a cornerstone of our business strategy and the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is an excellent example of affordable technology combined with high customer value and represents Ford’s promise to Go Further.” The 2014 Ford Fiesta is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. this fall.
Ford celebrates Escape launch, jobs at Louisville Assembly Plant; Ford SYNC inducted into Computer History Museum; Ford engages Bay Area innovation with new Silicon Valley Lab; Ford to cut energy use 25 percent, new Sustainability Report says; Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine wins ‘International Engine of the Year’
Ford is continuing to push the envelope when it comes to automotive technology—all the way from its Motor City roots to Silicon Valley: The automaker recently announced it would open its very first dedicated research and development lab in California’s high-tech hotspot. The new facility will be located in the San Francisco Bay area and open later this quarter, with efforts to be spearheaded by the automaker’s Ford Research and Innovation division. Combined with Ford’s Advanced Design Studio in Irvine, Calif., and the company’s presence in Redmond, Wash.—where Ford team members are working in collaboration with Microsoft, Ford’s “connectivity platform partner”—the result will be a comprehensive West Coast innovation network that will help Ford further advance its leadership role in transportation technologies. “Silicon Valley represents a deep and dynamic technology neighborhood and is far from Dearborn [Ford’s home base],” said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader for open innovation with Ford Research and Innovation. “With so many opportunities and so much potential, our new lab will allow us to scout new technologies and partners in their own environment and continue our expansion beyond the traditional automaker mindset to drive innovation for a better mobility experience.” More specifically, Ford’s new Silicon Valley enterprise will focus on areas including: Personal mobility—Using a “holistic approach to personal transportation” to take on issues surrounding urban transportation in a time of growing megacities around the globe. Open-source hardware and software developer kits—Providing developers with access to the vehicle data they need to design cutting-edge cloud-based apps and services. The car as a sensor—Discovering new ways to leverage vehicles’ current range of sensors to enhance the driving experience for everyone; for example, by using data about when drivers activate their windshield wipers to enhance weather reporting. “Ford integrates technologies, software and electronics at the same pace as the most innovative companies in the world—our platform just happens to be the car,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of Research and Innovation. “The new Silicon Valley lab will propel us further as we look at the many facets of life where mobility interacts with society and see how we can make those experiences better for millions of customers around the world.”
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