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Ford sending fixes for MyFord Touch systems

Published: March 6, 2012 | 9:31 am
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Help, in the form of upgraded software, is in the mail for about 300,000 owners of 2011-12 model-year Ford vehicles with MyFord Touch, company officials said Monday.

Ford’s objective is to simplify the graphics and refine the way the system responds to touch and voice commands. While some customers like it, others have expressed confusion or frustration over the first generation of the infotainment and control screen.

Surveys published by J.D. Power and Associates and last week by Consumer Reports magazine gave Ford lower marks across the range of its model lineup than a year earlier. Problems with MyFord Touch were cited as a contributing factor.

Flash drives will be mailed this week that consumers can plug into a USB port to download the upgrade, giving them the latest software version of the system and the one Ford is installing in 2013-model vehicles.

Ford introduced its Sync system in 2007 and continues to augment it to allow consumers to connect their smartphones, iPods, tablets and other devices to their car and access mobile apps in a safe manner. Voice commands and steering wheel controls, in addition to touch screens, allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Sync expanded into the more sophisticated MyFord and MyLincoln Touch, which has received mixed reviews from consumers and the automotive media.

In hindsight, “We should have spent more time up front working on responsiveness,” said Graydon Reitz, director of electronics and electrical systems engineering. For the 2013 model year, Ford will offer the next-generation MyFord Touch on seven vehicles and MyLincoln Touch on at least four.

And the feature has come down in price from $395 to $295.

The touch screen and voice recognition are simpler to read and use, faster and more intuitive, said Derrick Kuzak, head of Ford’s global product development.

It is easier to change a radio station, turn up the heat or get directions. The heated seat command, for example, is on the home screen now; it took about three touches to get to the right screen before.

Phone pairing was improved, and customers with navigation systems will receive a memory card that can update maps. Engineers also worked to clean up errors generated when a variety of external devices connect to the car’s software.

“It’s more than an update. It’s a substantial upgrade,” Kuzak said.

Ford tested the new software over the past three months with employees and dealers, Reitz said. Feedback from the first group of 1,000 testers was incorporated, and a second group of 700 further verified the system.

Customers can perform the upgrades themselves by inserting the UBS stick into a port in the vehicle and following a few menu prompts. Or they can go to their dealer to have it done.

The download takes about 60 minutes, and the car must be running the whole time, said Michelle Moody, cross vehicle marketing manager.

Moody said there will be follow-up to encourage people to make the upgrade. “We are targeting a high completion rate.”

Contact Alisa Priddle: 313-222-5394 or apriddle@freepress.com

More Details: MyFord Touch Upgrades

Ford is sending USB flash drives to about 300,000 owners of 2011 and 2012 vehicles equipped with the MyFord Touch connectivity system. The drives will go out in the mail this week.

Eligible vehicles include: 2011-12 Ford Explorer and Edge, Lincoln MKX, 2012 Ford Focus.

New 2013 vehicles with MyFord Touch will have the latest version installed at the factory including the Ford Flex, Taurus, Escape, Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi, Focus Electric, C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi as well as Lincoln MKS, MKT, MKX and MKZ.

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