Two of the world's most recognisable brands - Ford and Google - have formed a strategic partnership that aims to ‘reinvent the connected vehicle experience'. The six year deal will not only see the car manufacturer make use of Google's technology, but will also see Ford and the cloud vendor come together to create a new co-innovation team to drive new product ideas and business models.
The new partnership will see millions of Ford and Lincoln vehicles (at all price points) powered by Android, with google apps and services built in. Aside from the dashboard facing Google services, such as maps and voice controls, Ford is particularly interested in how Google Cloud's data capabilities can be used to deliver helpful services to drivers and also be deployed across Ford's manufacturing processes.
The nuts and bolts of the deal include:
Making use of Google Cloud's AI, ML and data analytics technologies to help with Ford's digital transformation, including modernising operations and power connected vehicle technologies
Improve Ford's customer experience with differentiated technology and personalised services
Using Google tech to modernise product development, manufacturing and supply chain management, including the potential use of vision AI for manufacturing employee training.
The implementation of data-driven business models resulting in customers receiving real-time notices, such as maintenance requests or trade-in alerts
In addition to the above, Ford and Lincoln drivers will benefit from the use of Google Assistant in-car, Google Maps, and the use of Google Play to download applications. Android will also allow third party developers to build apps specific to personalising Ford's driving experience.
Commenting on the deal, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said:
With Google Cloud, Ford will digitally transform - from the front office, to the car, to the manufacturing plant floor. And there are a number of different applications, including modernising product development, improving manufacturing and supply chain management, using computer vision AI for employee training, inspection of equipment on the assembly line, and others.
We're also working together to create new business models with data. For example, real time notices to consumers or maintenance requests or trading alerts. Beginning in 2023, Ford and Lincoln vehicles will be powered by Android, with Google apps and services built in.
And with Google Play drivers will continue to have access to their favourite applications for listening to music or podcasts, audiobooks and more. All optimised integrated or in vehicle use with Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
A joint team approach
As noted above, Ford and Google will be creating a new collaborative group, dubbed Team Upshift, which aims to ‘leverage the talent and assets of both companies'. Speaking via a virtual press conference, David McClelland, Ford Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, said that this was one of the most significant aspects of the deal. He explained:
This co-creation team that we're going to come together with will be truly unique and special in the industry. The team is made up of Google and Ford employees, and it will push the boundaries of our modernization efforts, unlocking personalised customer experiences, driving disruptive data driven opportunities, and will create new retail experiences for customers when buying a vehicle.
McClelland added that Ford has world class in-house data insights and analytics teams, as well as significant software expertise. But with the manufacturer moving rapidly towards commercialising its self-driving business and connected vehicle experiences, the co-innovation team will boost the company with the necessary skills and ideas. He said:
We both believe that the relationship between Google and Ford will establish an innovation powerhouse. It will accelerate the modernization of our business. Most importantly, this will let us exceed our customers' expectations.
The partnership that we're embarking on with Google will benefit Ford by allowing our employees to harness the power of data, even faster than we've done before, in smarter and more innovative ways.
"It benefits our Ford customers by delivering personalised intuitive and enjoyable experiences in their vehicles, which will just keep getting smarter. It allows our team to focus on delivering unique differentiated services to our Ford and Lincoln customers, and we can leverage Google's world class AI, ML, map and voice technologies.
The virtual press conference hosted by Kurian and McClellan this week very much highlighted that the two companies are aiming to play to their own strengths, whilst working collaboratively. Ford wants to focus on what it knows best - drivers and cars - whilst Google can bring the data and technology skills to the table. McClellan was keen to highlight that drivers that use Apple devices will still be able to pair those with their vehicle, but the backbone of Ford's technology experience is now going to be driven by Google. It's a big win for Google Cloud, which is aiming to prove that it can only master the consumer facing services with this use case, but also the back-end manufacturing support. One to watch.