Ford said in Detroit it was introducing FordPass – as part of its "transformation into an auto and mobility company" – a platform that "reimagines" the relationship between automaker and consumer, aiming to do for car owners (Ford ownership not required) what iTunes did for music fans.
Members can talk to personal mobility assistants – FordGuides – night or day to help resolve their mobility challenges, whether finding a more efficient way to get around or booking parking before reaching their destination. Members can also reserve and pay for advance parking, virtually build their ideal vehicle at one of several FordHubs, and receive rewards for membership loyalty.
Membership is free for Ford vehicle owners and non-owners alike. The platform officially launches in April in the US.
It is part of Ford Smart Mobility and features four elements to benefit members: The marketplace includes mobility services; FordGuides help consumers move more efficiently; appreciation, where members are recognised for their loyalty; and FordHubs, where consumers can experience the latest innovations.
All members will have access to a marketplace of mobility services.
The automaker is working with ParkWhiz and Parkopedia to help people find and pay for parking more easily and FlightCar to borrow and share vehicles when they travel. In the future, services will include ride sharing, car sharing and multimodal transportation.
Members can pay for these services through FordPay – a virtual wallet.
"FordPass is about convenience," said Stephen Odell, Ford executive vice president, global marketing, sales and service. "We're connecting consumers with the world, making it all incredibly easy."
Ford owners can easily connect with their preferred dealer to schedule maintenance and service appointments or to review their vehicle finance account details.
Members who own Ford vehicles equipped with SYNC Connect can use the system to access vehicle features such as remote start; lock and unlock; fuel, oil levels and battery charge; tyre pressure readings; and to locate their vehicle.
Members can speak directly to trusted and knowledgeable guides – all at the touch of a button.
If a member decides he would like to book advance parking for an upcoming show but is unsure how to reserve it, one push of a button on his smartphone lands him in a live chat with a FordGuide who will lead him through the options and help to reserve parking.
The guides will be available free of charge. Their only job is to guide, serve and help solve mobility challenges – not to sell, the automaker insisted.
Appreciation and Perks
Members will be rewarded for doing simple things, such as registering to become a member, booking parking, or interacting with FordGuides.
And by collaborating with affinity partners McDonald's, 7-Eleven and others, FordPass can recognise members with access to merchandise and unique experiences.
"Ford always has been motivated to make people's lives better," said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. "We did it when we put the world on wheels a century ago and we do it now through our strong lineup of cars, SUVs, trucks and electrified vehicles. Today, we take our commitment one step further with the introduction of FordPass – an all-new platform that may be our most revolutionary yet."
FordHubs are where consumers will be able to explore Ford's latest innovations, learn about the company's mobility services and experience exclusive events.
These urban storefronts will be located in New York, San Francisco, London and Shanghai. The first opens later this year in Westfield World Trade Center in New York.
On-site FordGuides will help guests understand mobility options available in their cities, explore solutions for their mobility needs, view a real-time mobility map of their city, and experience special events, including new vehicle reveals.
FordPass launches this spring in the United States and Canada, followed by other markets including Europe, China and Brazil later this year. Capability is activated through smartphones.