Ford Motor Co. opens Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto

Article by Christian A., on January 25, 2015

Ford Motor Co. has opened its Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, aimed at accelerating the carmaker’s innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. Mark Fields, Ford president and chief executive, remarked that the new research center shows the company’s commitment to be part of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem.

He added that the new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto is working on new technologies -- connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles – to make them accessible to everyone. The Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, located in Stanford Research Park, is the newest of Ford’s research and innovation centers around the world.

One of these research and innovation centers is located in Dearborn, Michigan, which works on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics. Another one is located in Aachen, Germany, focusing on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

The new research center in Palo Alto will be home to around 125 researchers, engineers and scientists by the end of 2015, making it one of the largest car-making research centers in Silicon Valley. The new research center will be led by Dragos Maciuca as senior technical leader for innovation.

He is an engineer with a background in consumer electronics, semiconductor manufacturing, aerospace and automotive with vast extensive Silicon Valley experience advising startups, developing and commercializing products while collaborating with universities and leading cross-functional teams.

The carmaker recently introduced at the 2015 International CES the Ford Smart Mobility, which outlines the carmaker’s plans to accelerate innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data – areas where the research center in Palo Alto will focus on. 

In a great development for the American carmaker, Ford posted double-digit sales growths in China in 2014. Ford and its Chinese joint ventures logged a sales jump of 19 percent in China last year to 1.11 million vehicles. In December alone, Ford sold 13 percent more vehicles to 107,244 units.

Ford remarked that its surge in China has been limited by lack of production capacity. Nonetheless, the US carmaker is now adding new sites in the country to address this issue. The carmaker’s production operations in China are being implemented through local partners such as Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. and Jiangling Motors Corp. Ltd.

In November 2014, the US carmaker unveiled the all-new 2016 Ford Explorer at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Its old 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine has been replaced with a more powerful 2.3-liter EcoBoost, which is basically the same mill offered on the 2015 Mustang. [source: Ford]

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