The past two years have been pretty good to Ford: the company launched some very popular new models like the Ford Fiesta and the revamped Focus, and the automaker largely avoided the bankruptcy/bailout fiasco that plagued its Detroit rivals. Over the summer, however, Ford was dealt a setback in J.D. Power's recent Initial Quality Study -- not because of the company's vehicles, per se, but because of the infotainment systems they contain. According to Detroit News, Ford is planning some updates to that system, and it's using employees as guinea pigs.
This is good news for Ford fans and yet another indication that the company is taking consumer complaints very seriously. Just last month, we received word that Ford had begun upgrading MyFord Touch, which owners criticized for being counter-intuitive and for its iffy voice-command system. Those updates included easier-to-read screens, better maps and navigation features, and improved audio quality on calls fielded through the system. Ford also published an upgrade to SYNC that lets it read text messages aloud to drivers.
Ford hasn't given specifics about the newest upgrades just yet, but we assume that they'll continue fine-tuning the existing infotainment system. (On our wish list: Siri-like capabilities on the voice-recognition front.)
To test these upgrades, Ford will make them available to 1,000 Ford workers, who will run them for a month on their own employee-lease vehicles. A beta group of that size should account for a range of user experiences, from the tech-savvy to the tech-averse. The idea is to pool the responses and make MyFord Touch as clean as possible before Ford rolls out those updates to consumers.
When the updates do arrive, they'll come first to 2013 models of the Ford Escape, Flex, and Taurus, with other vehicles to follow. Owners will be able to get the updated software on a jump drive, or they can go to a dealer for installation. By 2014, Ford says that it plans to make MyFord Touch available on 80% of the company's line-up.
If you use MyFord Touch and SYNC, drop us a note in the comments and let us know what improvements you'd like to see in the next software update.