Ford Launches New Software Updates Called Power-Up

  • Ford says its new software updates, under a new system called Power-Up, deliver regular vehicle enhancements to its owners.
  • The company says Power-Up turns connected vehicle learnings “into continuous quality improvements, new features and capabilities.”
  • Ford says it will produce 33 million vehicles with Power-Up capability by 2028 and that some enhancements already have been sent to more than 100,000 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers since late March.

    Ford Motor Co. said that driving an “enhanced, upgraded vehicle will now become a regular experience” for its owners because the automaker plans to deliver new features and improvements over the air (OTA) through its updated wireless software tech the company is calling Power-Up.

    Ford said the first Power-Up software updates for F-150 and Mustang Mach-E in North America began in March and that customers with new vehicles that have Power-Up capability can identify their preferences and vehicle issues. Ford said its engineers can translate the information into quality and capability improvements.

    “Software updates are common across billions of connected devices but not yet for vehicles,” said Alex Purdy, Ford’s director of business operations and enterprise connectivity. “Ford Power-Up software updates will change that by quickly bringing it to millions of people. We’ve invested in more seamless technology so updates can happen while you’re sleeping – making your next ride a better experience.”

    Over the last two months, 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers have begun receiving Power-Up enhancements.

    JAMES LIPMAN / JAMESLIPMAN.COM

    The company said its new networked, second-gen electrical architecture and new tech stack are the foundation for Power-Up’s software updates. “These quick and easy wireless upgrades help enhance features, quality, experiences, capability and convenience,” Ford said. The company said the updates can be applied to the “vast majority of vehicle computer modules – 80 so far – these upgrades can help improve the ownership experience and may help reduce the need for repair trips.”

    Ford said many Power-Up software updates will be invisible to customers thanks to a tech platform that installs much of the new software in the background. Further, Ford said many updates require little to no action by the customer because SYNC 4 technology keeps current software running until the new version is ready to go.

    For updates that do require reboots, customers can schedule them at convenient times, such as overnight, Ford said, adding that some updates can take less than two minutes but others could take longer.

    Ford also said it working with Amazon in preparation for what the companies are calling “the industry’s broadest rollout of the embedded Alexa hands-free experience to date,” with complimentary connectivity for up to three years. “This year alone, the same type of Alexa voice command functionality many people have in their homes will be wired to 700,000 Ford vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, followed by millions more over the next few years,” the company said. Ford did not say how much Alexa will cost after three years.

    Ford said it plans to work with Amazon to deliver enhanced features and new services over the next six years, including exploring the development of the first custom Alexa skills for Ford commercial vehicles, using Alexa artificial intelligence to help business owners and fleet managers stay in touch with their teams in the field.

    “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 Power-Up software updates beginning this fall for Bronco, Edge, F-150, Mustang Mach-E and Super Duty customers with SYNC 4 tech in the U.S. and Canada, with other regions to follow.

    Ford said its customers will be able to ask Alexa to perform tasks such as control smart home devices, place calls, locate parking and more through SYNC 4’s hands-free, voice-initiated interactions. Ford said customers can interact with their vehicles naturally and say things like, “Alexa, find the closest gas station” or “Alexa, play my road trip playlist” or “Alexa, call Mom.”

    Ford said its customers will be able to access Amazon’s voice AI and features both inside and outside their vehicle.

    The automaker said that over the last two months, 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers have begun receiving Ford Power-Up enhancements. Mustang Mach-E customers in North America and Europe soon will get Sketch — also referred to as Notes in vehicle menus – for touchscreen drawing and simple gaming.

    Ford also said its Power-Up software updates will “quickly expand to nearly all vehicle computer modules, enabling an update of Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology that adds BlueCruise5 hands-free highway driving to Intelligent Cruise Control.”

    The company said this will be delivered to properly equipped F-150s and Mustang Mach-Es with additional software purchased later this year.

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