Ford says it is starting to send out over-the-internet software updates to some of its newer models as it moves to offer technology to match electric car maker Tesla.
The current updates are only available to about 100,000 owners of 2021 model year F-150s, Mustang Mach-Es and the upcoming Bronco, but Ford plans to spread the tech across its entire lineup as models are updated. It plans to make 33 million vehicles with the capability by 2028.
According to Alex Purdy, the company’s connectivity business director, updates can fix software glitches in the vehicles’ computers and will be able to make recall repairs, offer new features and cut warranty claims. In addition, there are about 80 different computers in Ford’s most sophisticated vehicles that control everything from the infotainment centre to brakes and transmission shifts.
Ford already has sent out an update to fix a lighting issue that drained batteries. One of the next updates will be a new version of Amazon Alexa that allows vehicles to communicate with the home assistant without the use of a smartphone. Ford also will roll out touchscreen drawing software and simple games for the Mach-E electric SUV.
Alex Purdy said software can identify potential problems in vehicles and fixes can be sent out if the software can solve the problem. “That fix can be done remotely, it doesn’t require you to go into a dealership,” he said.
Nowadays more than 6 million vehicles have the modems and collect vehicle data, but only those with the latest generation of electrical systems can get full over-the-internet updates. According to Ford, vehicles equipped for its new “Blue Cruise” hands-free driver-assist system will get the software needed to run it over the internet.