Automotive giant Ford on Thursday outlined its latest progress in delivering over-the-air (OTA) software updates to its connected vehicle lineup, as well as a new strategic partnership with Amazon to further embed hands-free Alexa capabilities in its vehicles.
Ford began sending OTA updates to software modules in F-150 and Mustang Mach-E vehicles in North America in March, and the company said it plans to produce 30 million OTA-capable Fords by 2028.
The automaker said it has built a new fully networked, second-generation electrical architecture and advanced tech stack to serve as the foundation of the Ford Power-Up software updates.
Going forward, Ford said it will approach every opportunity as a software-led company.
"Vehicles used to just get older, now Ford's will just get better over time," said Aziz Makkiya, manager of software updates for Ford Enterprise Connectivity. In effect, the company said the broad deployment of Power-Up software updates will help change the paradigm of vehicle depreciation.
As for its work with Amazon, the companies said they plan to work together to deliver enhanced features and new commercial services over the next six years, including built-in Alexa features and voice controlled vehicle functions like starting and stopping the engine and unlocking the doors. This year, Alexa voice command functionality is set to arrive in 700,000 Ford vehicles in the US and Canada.
"We're excited to work with Amazon to bring powerful new AI-enabled experiences to Ford customers," said Alex Purdy, head of business operations for Ford Enterprise Connectivity. "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."
Ford first brought Alexa into its vehicles in 2017, starting with connected vehicle skills and then adding in-vehicle capabilities through the SYNC AppLink smartphone app, which the company said is still available but no longer required.
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 models with SYNC 4 Technology in the US and Canada.