Ford Motor Company has lagged some automakers when it comes to over-the-air software updates. That is all about to change this year as the company is planning a host of OTA updates for vehicles, including significant new functionalities. All in, Ford hopes to have 33 million vehicles with OTA capability by 2028.
In typical Ford fashion, they have a name for their OTA updates. The company will refer to their update system as Ford Power-Up. Through the Power-Up program Ford owners will receive both free software updates and the ability to download new features for an additional fee, similar to Tesla vehicles. Many Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E owners have already received various OTA updates.
“Software updates are common across billions of connected devices but not yet for vehicles. Ford Power-Up software updates will change that by quickly bringing it to millions of people,” says Alex Purdy, director, business operations, enterprise connectivity, Ford Motor Company. “We’ve invested in more seamless technology so updates can happen while you’re sleeping – making your next ride a better experience.”
Ford notes its Power-Up updates will not be limited to just the vehicle infotainment system. In fact, over 80 computer modules on higher-end models will be capable of receiving OTA updates.
Powering Up Alexa
One of the first major updates Ford will deploy via Power-Up is embedding Amazon Alexa in its vehicles. The company says over 700,000 vehicles will feature the embedded voice recognition technology, starting later this year. Ford’s strategic partnership with Amazon will allow for custom Alexa skills, including unique ones for commercial vehicles.
“We’re excited to work with Amazon to bring powerful new AI-enabled experiences to Ford customers,” says Purdy. “We believe in the power of teaming up with other innovators. Bringing Ford’s vehicle know-how together with Amazon’s technology expertise will deliver in-vehicle capabilities that help our retail customers travel more enjoyably and with ease, while helping our commercial customers operate more profitably.”
Alexa will initially be delivered through Ford Power-Up software updates beginning this fall for Bronco, Edge, F-150, Mustang Mach-E and Super Duty customers with SYNC 4 Technology in the U.S. and Canada, with other regions to follow.
It’s important to note that Ford vehicles have offered owners the ability to leverage Amazon Alexa in their car in the past. However, that functionality was via the owner’s smartphone. This new functionality will be embedded in the vehicle system as part of a three-year subscription.
Additional Features, Fixes Coming
Ford isn’t stopping with Amazon Alexa. The company will also leverage Power-Up OTA updates to deploy its semi-autonomous BlueCruise system later this year. Eligible Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E owners will receive an update that impacts multiple vehicle systems to enable BlueCruise.
The company says its connectivity vehicle technology is also enabling engineers to identify and fix issues quicker. OTA updates have already resolved issues with the F-150’s zone lighting and another is pending this June to fix an issue with Android Auto on both F-150 and Mustang Mach-E.
Mustang Mach-E owners will also receive an update soon that enables a new feature called Ford Sketch. The app allows owners to draw pictures on the large infotainment display. Eventually Ford may enable the ability to share sketches to social media apps.