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Ranger gets connected

During last week’s launch of the new Ranger FX4, the real star of the show wasn’t in the car, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Sadly, we eventually had to take our leave of the Black Panther, but she still had a surprise in store via the app. Although the car was unpaired from the app once I got home, I discovered I could still use the app independently to find paid parking near a venue where I needed to have a meeting. Yes, you can find parking on mapping apps, but Google maps shows you every open, closed, paid and unpaid (i.e. not secure) parking area everywhere. Waze only shows Parking in one’s vicinity. FordPass not only allows one to search around a destination – and therefore plan the route to the spot in advance – but also indicates the hourly cost of parking.

None of this is groundbreaking. There are both cars and apps that have one or another of these elements, and even combinations. The exciting aspects of FordPass are that it is a well-integrated package, that it works seamlessly, that the lag between hitting the right button and the car responding has been reduced dramatically compared to similar functions in luxury vehicles, and that having this tech in a pickup marks the beginning of connected car functionality coming to mass-market vehicles.

“We’re looking at it in terms of baby steps,” says Kuda Takura, smart services lead at Ford South Africa. “It’s the start of the journey which allows us to introduce those types of features. They prove the capability to utilise the growing speed and pace of Internet networks and 4G connectivity, and in some quarters 5G, and pulling together where smartphones are today as well.

“We may have been ‘late’ in to the party, but we have arrived with a consistent, well-structured, fully-functional application that is going to start a much more detailed journey around what we can actively do with data to better the lives of our customers.”

Once the tech is more broadly rolled out, he says, Ford will probably go back to the market for insights, speak to engineering teams, and look at engagement data.

“There are two aspects of this. The one is from what customers have willingly opted into. There’s a lot of detail they can look at both on our website as well as on the application to understand what’s being shared, and the vehicle also allows them to specifically go in and detail what it is that they are comfortable sharing.

“On the other side, the ideas are limitless. For example, in the Ford Credit space, we can look at it as a means by which we can reduce instalments on vehicles. We can potentially look at your profile and say, perhaps we signed you up to a contract where you are driving 20,000 kilometres per year, and you’re being billed accordingly. But in these Covid times, for example, you’re only doing 12,000 kilometres per year. Can we then take that information and structure a better deal for you, presented to you in a manner that is personalised?”

The further significance of the launch, says Takura, is that it is happening now rather than a few years down the line.

“We have gone from potentially seeing this in 2025 or so to it happening here and now and we’ll continue to roll that out and look at where else we can go. For example, people were saying, if you can remote start, why can’t my phone then become my ultimate key? That is already available in the US market in the Ford Mustang marque, for example.

“In terms of the timeframe for full roll-out of connected cars, 2025 is realistic for all cars. We’ll see a lot more well before 2025.”

  • Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee

Go to the next page to read information about the full set of features from the FordPass app and FordPass Connect.

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