Touchscreen upgrades came too late to improve JD Power survey, says Ford

Article by Anita Panait, on June 21, 2012

With the J.D. Power & Associates' new-model survey coming out today, Ford Motor Co. expects to receive quality scores around the same or slightly better than the grades it received in a similar survey in 2011. Ford admits that software upgrades that may fix glitches in dashboard touchscreens of its vehicles came too late to improve its quality scores in the new-model survey.

 According to Bennie Fowler, Ford's group vice president of global quality, the company sent a software upgrade in March to 377,000 customers with the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch dashboard controls. But since Power measures quality of new cars from November to February, the upgrades would not be reflected on the survey. Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief, said the software upgrade included faster touch responses, simpler graphics, enhanced voice recognition and improved phone controls.

According to Fowler, the carmaker is expecting dramatic improvement technology quality in the third quarter of 2012, which would surely improve Ford’s quality scores in the new-model survey in 2013.

Due to technology glitches, the Ford brand dropped from fifth to 23rd in J.D. Power's new-car quality survey in 2011. According to Power, the brand produced 116 problems per 100 models sold in the 2011 survey. The quality score was well below the industry average of 107 problems per 100 models in 2011. Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand also dropped to 17th in the survey.

Lincoln is shown to produce 111 problems per 100 models surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

Ford’s turnaround plan, as drafted by chief executive, Alan Mulally, heavily relies on employing new technologies to attract buyers. The carmaker so far have managed to attract younger buyers by introducing fuel-efficient and turbocharged engines and offering features like voice-activated phones. These technologies also helped push the prices of Ford vehicles, with U.S. buyers paying an average of $31,995 for Ford's models in the first quarter of 2012, according to Edmunds.com.

Topics: ford, jd power, survey

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