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Last month Ford's Jim Farley made waves at the CES when it was reported he told show attendees, "We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone." Farley and Ford later partially retracted and clarified that statement.
Spurred by a desire for further transparency on data collection policies, Ford representatives answered questions from Congress, specifically Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), about driver privacy.
The Detroit News reports that Ford told Congress it does collect some vehicle location data in an effort to "troubleshoot and improve our products" on behalf of the driver. Ford went on to say that it only collects limited data after receiving permission from owners.
Ford also spelled out how, and how long, different types of data is collected and stored. The company claims that travel data from SYNC services can be kept for up to 60 days, but only to "fulfill the customer request" according to the Detroit News report, as well as for the aforementioned troubleshooting. Location data from in-vehicle navigation systems can be kept in the vehicle's own storage for up to weeks at a time (depending on number of miles traveled). Ford does collect data about plug-in hybrids and EVs, including speed data, but only when the battery system charge is low.
Ford also said that it will turn over vehicle data if subpoenaed to do so, but only via physical access to the vehicle in question.
For his part, Sen. Franken believes the time is ripe for a reintroduction of his "location privacy" bill, which would require that customers be better informed about where their data is going, and asking for "clear consent" before it is gathered, stored, or shared. "This is sensitive information," said Franken, "and notices to consumers about this sensitive data shouldn't get lost in fine print."Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ford marketing head honcho Jim Farley made waves at CES this week by telling show attendees, "We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it." according to a report by Business Insider. Farley continued by saying, "We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone."
Farley has since amended his statement, saying that Ford dose not, in fact, track its customers in their cars "without their approval or consent."
Apparently carried away with a hypothetical notion, Farley was attempting to describe how Ford might be able to employee aggregated user data for things like accurate traffic reporting and pattern spotting. A Ford spokesperson confirmed with Business Insider that its GPS units are not sharing the whereabouts of drivers, though there are a few on-board services that might do so. After opting in to the services (and presumably being made aware of any/all tracking and data collection), Ford's Sync Services Directions and Crew Chief software do, in fact, allow data collection as a means of improving both systems. Farley added that the opt-in data is not shared, even when being tracked.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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While most of us believe that small, fuel efficient cars are the key to global expansion for US automakers, Jim Farley, Ford's vice president of Global Marketing, thinks otherwise. Last week, we attended an exclusive sneak preview of the Ford Edge Concept in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and Farley told us that it's actually utility vehicles that will help the Blue Oval gain market share overseas. "There is no other segment in our industry that is growing like utilities," he said. "We expect over the next five years this full family of [utility] vehicles to really drive our growth as a company."
And Farley has the numbers to back it up, too. Ford projects overall automotive sales to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2017, but the company's utility vehicles are expected to boom by an impressive 41 percent during that same period. Much of that growth will be in China, where Ford estimates its utility sales will explode. "The biggest opportunity for us globally for utilities is in China," Farley said. "China utility growth is expected to more than double from where it is today to 2017, which isn't that far away." Most astounding is that Ford projects its own utility sales in China will eventually increase by more than 2,000 percent when smaller crossovers, such as the EcoSport and Kuga (sold as the Escape in North America), and the Edge and Explorer, are factored in.
Ford's VP also expects utilities to lead the way in the struggling European market. "With all the difficulties of the European market, there is one segment that has actually expanded in volume over the last several years even though the market is way down, and that's utilities," Farley told us. Ford estimates that their utility sales will grow 65 percent in Europe from 2012-2017. "The utility segment is projected to grow we think about thirty percent between now and 2017 in Europe, and we think we are going to grow twice that rate as a brand," Farley continued.
To achieve these goals, Ford will be globalizing their utility lineup just like they have been with their passenger cars. The EcoSport, which was previously only available in South America, has been launched in China along with the Escape. The EcoSport and Edge will also be making their way to Europe to join the second generation Kuga.Permalink | Email this | Comments
"We certainly have that ability. We're studying it very, very closely." Those are the words of Jim Farley, global head of sales, marketing, service at Ford. The investigation Farley is referring to is the possibility of selling the company's new EcoSport crossover in America.
The diminutive Fiesta-based EcoSport was developed for emerging markets like Brazil and, more recently, China, but it apparently may have a future in the States, where it would form a new entry-level rung below the Escape in Ford's already robust crossover stable. Ford has big plans for its tiny CUV - Farley tells Automotive News that the EcoSport is only available in 10 countries right now, but by 2017, its distribution will have mushroomed to 62 countries. At the time the second-generation model launched at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show as a 2013 model, Ford said the EcoSport would eventually be sold in nearly 100 markets worldwide.
The Brazilian- and Indian-assembled EcoSport is available with a variety of gasoline-powered engines, but the 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost giving 118 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque would seem to be the powertrain of choice for America, as it was recently confirmed for the stateside 2014 Fiesta.
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Automotive News reports Lincoln is looking to Chinese luxury shoppers for customer service ideas. Those notions may eventually make their way back to the US in the form of new dealership training. Jim Farley, the executive vice president of global marketing for Ford, tells Automotive News, "In many ways, China will be a listening post for Lincoln in the United States. Soon China will be the largest luxury market in the world." Farley also said that in China, the Lincoln brand is currently where Lexus was when the Japanese brand first landed in the US.
Lincoln is slated to open its first Chinese dealerships in 2014. The brand is largely unknown in Asia, and Lincoln representatives have been visiting other luxury dealers in China for an idea of what buyers there expect. Lincoln has also studied non-automotive luxury shopping, paying special attention to high-end retail branding.
Of course, this whole song and dance feels awfully familiar. Lincoln has focused heavily on remaking the brand and recrafting its marketing here in the States, thus far without sufficient product to back the play. Lincoln is already late to the China game, and without the necessary products to lure buyers away from established bodies like Buick and Cadillac, Lincoln may be doomed to repeat its fate here in the US.Permalink | Email this | Comments