Ford's Car Of The Future--By Way Of The Simpsons?

April 13, 2010

The Simpsons is, admittedly, just a cartoon, but its encyclopedic punditry on American life occasionally dips into fields that can stir even a car lover's juices. Case in point: The Homer, a car designed to meet the average American's (read: Homer Simpson's) needs and desires. And today, Ford unveiled a plan to tap into exactly the same idea, sourcing ideas from the average car owner for its future technology and features.

For those lacking an elephantine memory of Simpsons episodes, The Homer was created after Homer complained to his long-lost half-brother Herb about the cars Herb's company was building. Herb, ever the open-minded executive, gave Homer carte blanche to create the perfect car for the average Joe. The resulting monstrosity was so frenetically styled and over-featured that Herb's company went out of business upon its introduction.

Ford is betting against The Homer's fate, however, offering a new site where the public can send in their ideas and requests for future technology and features. Once you've created a profile for the site, you can submit your favorite unfulfilled car desires and have them rated by the rest of the community. The ideas with the most positive votes will then be considered by Ford's advanced product planning and marketing teams.

The real benefit to Ford, according to North American president Mark Fields, isn't necessarily the product ideas, but the image-building: by listening to customers in this way, the company hopes to build stronger connections with the average car buyer.

Ford is staying pretty noncommittal in their ultimate plan to use the ideas generated this way, but regardless of whether any user-generated idea ever comes to production, it's sure to provide some entertainment.

[The Ford Story, The Detroit News]

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