Is MyFord Touch Turning Customers Away?


Detroit Free Press

When Ford introduced the next-generation MyFord Touch it intended to carry the torch forward and keep the company on the cutting edge of in-car computing.

But the complex MyFord Touch system has befuddled many buyers and potential buyers.

The joint Microsoft-Ford team successfully created Sync, a system that connected a driver’s smart phone to the car through new software loaded into the existing radio. Drivers could use voice commands and car controls to make calls, change stations, play MP3s and also access the Internet. Ford’s small cars became hip because of the technology, and it showed up in increased sales.

It was supposed to be the beginning of a product revolution for Ford and Microsoft.

Now, six years later, Ford hopes the next-generation MyFord Touch can carry the torch forward and keep the oldest car company on the cutting edge of in-car computing. But the complex system — now on more than 5 million vehicles — has befuddled many buyers. They complain its trademark touch screen is too difficult to figure out and even dangerous to operate while driving because there are fewer knobs or buttons to feel for while driving.

The new system was meant to still complete all the same tasks as Sync — find music, search the Internet for restaurants, gas stations and any destination, make a call with a voice command. But MyFord Touch added a high-tech, sharp-looking 8-inch touch screen that tapped into the rising iPhone craze, replacing standard old-school radio hardware.

But driver frustration with the system’s spotty performance — including problems with the touch screen and responsiveness of voice commands — has shown up in poor quality rankings for the Ford brand the past three years.

As the economy improves, most car companies, including the Detroit Three, have enjoyed improved sales. But some experts say Ford has left sales on the table because of MyFord Touch and say it could get worse before it gets better if public opinion doesn’t improve soon.

Some independent critics have praised the system. They say the initial growing pains that have shown up in poor quality rankings actually represent a technology headstart for Ford that will pay off down the road.