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.