The Ford Smart Mobility plan grows with FordPass.
Surprise and delight are not usually associated with car companies, but then, Ford sees itself as more than just a car company. The automaker is increasingly focused on mobility solutions that extend beyond the personal vehicle and is introducing FordPass. This app takes connectivity to the next level, letting you reserve parking, share a ride, or remotely unlock your car – all in one place.
Like iTunes, for car owners
Ford says the FordPass “aims to do for car owners what iTunes did for music fans.” But what’s really interesting is that the focus is not just on car owners, or even drivers; the smart mobility plan includes multi-modal journeys; using a folding bike for part of your commute, or taking a car to the train.
Four pronged approach
FordPass has four main areas:
- Marketplace includes mobility services such as parking and sharing
- FordGuides help consumers move more efficiently
- Appreciation, where members are recognized for their loyalty
- FordHubs, where consumers can experience Ford’s latest innovations
Free for all
FordPass launches in April; membership is free for Ford vehicle owners and non-owners alike. You just sign up online. Perhaps surprisingly, non-Ford owners are just as highly regarded as Ford owners; they can access the same level of services.
Here’s where the comparison to Apple really makes sense. In a retail setting, (say hey, Apple Store) customers can explore Ford’s latest innovations; without anyone trying to sell them anything. OK, Apple stores DO exist primarily to sell a product, but they also exist to showcase the brand, and that’s what the FordHubs aim to do as well.
The first FordHub opens in March at Westfield World Trade Center in New York; later this year, it will be joined by FordHubs in San Francisco, London and Shanghai.
Elena Ford, Ford vice president, Global Dealer and Consumer Experience, said that Ford aims to surprise and delight both its customers and non-customers (or potential customers) with the appreciation component. Here members – and remember, this is free for everyone – are periodically rewarded with free merchandise from Ford partners. So far McDonald’s and 7-Eleven have signed on.
FordPass members can speak to FordGuides, aka personal mobility assistants, at the touch of a button, and free of charge.
A guide can help you book advance parking for example, and in the hubs, the guides are like the product specialists at car shows; they know everything about the Ford vehicles and can help you out. Their only job is to guide, serve and help solve mobility challenges, not to sell.
Marketplace – a place where, yes, you can spend money…if you must
Members will have access to mobility services through FordPass Marketplace. This is where you can get help to find and pay for parking more easily – Ford has partnered with a couple of big parking companies – or borrow cars when traveling. Going forward, Ford plans to add ride sharing services and multimodal transportation options. FordPass includes a virtual wallet, FordPay, to make this seamless.
And if you are a Ford owner, you can pay a Ford credit bill with the virtual wallet, or schedule maintenance and service appointments with your dealer.
If you have Ford SYNC Connect, services are even more robust; with FordPass you can access vehicle features such as remote start, lock and unlock, fuel, oil and battery charge levels, tire pressure readings, and to locate your vehicle. Think of the possibilities if you have a child who cannot hold onto a key (yet never loses her phone). You can unlock and start her car for her.
Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s futurist, promises that FordPass, like the Ford Motor Company, will continue to evolve. As Ford assesess the richness of experience, it will add more functionality to FordPass. Connelly, whose formal title is Global Consumer Trends and Futuring Manager, is likely the one who knows how this will all play out.